I recall that when I was in high school, I read somewhere that if a person spent even ten minutes a day thinking, well, the world decided that the person was a philosopher. That was back then. Before the web, before Instagram, before trump. Now, it has gotten worse; "we live in a culture of thoughtlessness":
The American Time Use Survey found that although 95 per cent of respondents said that they did at least one leisure activity during the previous 24 hours, 84 per cent had spent no time at all relaxing or thinking.If people are so thoughtless, I suppose we can retire the old saying, "a penny for your thoughts" ;)
So, what if we forced people to think?
A recent study by psychologists at the University of Virginia asked subjects to simply sit in a room and ‘just think’ for 6 to 15 minutes.Sounds like a great idea to me. Of course, students are forced to sit in my classrooms for much more than that. I wonder now how the test subjects reacted.
In the room was a button allowing subjects to electrocute themselves if they wanted.You can already see where this is going, right? Will they prefer to sit quietly and think, or will they instead prefer to shock themselves?
The researchers found that the majority of subjects would rather electrocute themselves than just sit quietly and think. One person electrocuted himself 190 times during this short period.Ouch!
These days, you rarely see humans pondering about something when they are in the public. It is almost as if we have become afraid of being left to our own selves.
The vast army of electronic devices surrounding us has proven an able ally to our fear of thinking. Only a decade or two ago, everyday life held many small parcels of time in which we would be marooned with our thoughts: queuing, sitting on public transport, idling in a traffic jam, or even just waiting for a friend. Today, the first thing people do when faced with a moment of downtime is to reach for their smartphone. A study by the market research agency Harris Interactive in 2013 found that we use our smartphones when walking down the street, watching films, or while in places of religious worship; 12 per cent admitted to using their phone while taking a shower; 9 per cent had checked their smartphone during sex.What are they checking their smartphones for when having sex? Maybe checking the work email when having sex is a turn on for them, eh!
When stopped at traffic intersections, I rarely see drivers these days who are looking up and ahead. Instead, it is all about the smartphone, as if in that 45 seconds some earth-shattering decision will have to be made by these drivers!
I, on the other hand, need to get out of my head, and live a little! ;)