Hunting and Gathering

I have been thinking about the degree to which I depend on technology – and further, how this dependence has changed the way I think.

In the past ten years, my mental processes have changed quite a bit. When I consider how simple things like making a grocery list or deciding on a movie become events to plan and research, I realize that I have lost the ability to trust my instincts. Do I want green apples or red? If I’m not sure what sounds good, I don’t think about it for a while, or even just make an easy 50-50 decision – I look to technology. I can research which apples are healthier, or which are cheaper, or which will make the best pies. I’m positive the banality of this decision is given time and importance it doesn’t deserve. What I’m not sure about is why I continue to behave this way – do I want to be distracted from my thoughts, fears, obligations, or does this behavior provide me with some other mental “reward” that I’m not even conscious of?

Nicolas Carr suggests that we have reverted from an intellectual civic society back to hunters and gatherers — of electronic data. This analogy suggests a primal state, where people’s very lives depended on successful hunting and gathering. I don’t want to believe that my existence is as dependent on the hunting and gathering of information as my ancestors’ lives were on hunting and gathering for food.

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