We’re Getting Dumber: GTD and Tech

GTD Summit guest Post by Ryan Heathers

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I sure hope not. I do recall my junior-high math teacher making an encouraging conjecture. She speculated that people are much less intelligent today than, oh, 5,000 years ago. The reason: genetic decline. You might say the gene pool just ain’t what it used to be.

But perhaps another threat to intelligent thought is lurking…

Twitter.

At the Summit, Ismael Ghalimi declared that, “Twitter is pure evil”. I heard a similar sentiment echoed by many of the speakers.

Two reasons I can see for making such a strong statement about Twitter: it can be an endless stream of distraction and it can promote quick, thoughtless blurbs.

To be fair, I’m singling Twitter out from a mass of new technologies that promote similar services, and pose similar problems. Twitter and others do offer some wonderful things. They lower the bar to sharing information. They allow people to have a voice. I personally use Twitter every day and mostly love it.

But I am troubled by some effects of convenient information sharing. I wonder if we are losing our ability to ponder. Our ability to think deeply and critically.

Perhaps we need to have scheduled breaks from these technologies not just for productivity reasons, but for brain development reasons.
James Fallows of the Atlantic discussed this aptly during the Summit, “Distractions and churn are the enemies of elevated thought”.    

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