I saw this on mind hacks about Susan Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield talking about Facebook et al risk ‘infantilising’ the human mind. The blog post sort of laughs at her for making these statements without evidence. I’m skeptical of the safe until proven otherwise model that has driven the use of chemicals in food and products that humans come in touch with. I’m skeptical of medicines that are not tested in real world situations, but only in controlled studies, before being released to interact.
When it comes to online technologies, to say that they’re safe because no one has proven otherwise with valid data, is ludicrous. Facebook use will change how people think. TV did. The invention of the Novel did. Don’t forget that the novel was a new technology too.
There’s no question, in my experience, that people who don’t read novels have a less nuanced and diverse understanding of human nature. That gives people who read novels an advantage in some respects. I think that social networking technologies such as FB reduce the complexity of social interactions to the most minimal level, reducing the need to engage cognitively with one’s self and others. But I’m not putting a value judgement on that. It will no doubt either engender new types of relationships that will have their own values, though there’s no data for that either.
There’s no question, however, FB type interactions help lots of people keep in touch with lots of people, in a very shallow, banal, trite and superficial manner… but is that anything new?