In this animated video, Steven Johnson explores the idea of what creativity has meant for humanity throughout history and how that may change in the digital era. Johnson stresses the idea that the most creative/innovative thoughts have emerged out of long periods of deliberation and collaboration with others. On the one hand, the digital era doesn’t facilitate this type of creativity. When we’re always plugged in, we’re distracted, multitasking, and suffering from information overload, so long periods of contemplation and deliberation usually don’t happen. However, on the other hand, the internet makes it so easy to connect with other people and share ideas. So the digital era provides improvements for collaboration and communication access.
I wonder, with improvements in collaboration and setbacks in contemplation, what the net effects of technology will be on our creativity. I think that if we continue to become more and more plugged in (it seems like every year my time spent online increases) without taking the time to unplug regularly, our creativity will definitely suffer. We need to give our bodies and brains a break from the constant bombardment! We need to sleep well, eat well, and engage in hobbies or activities that take us outside of our phones/laptops. I’ve always enjoyed exercising, and this has been my form of unplugging (although I’m still connected to my phone or ipod half the time), but I want to make more of an effort to engage in yoga or meditation. I want to build time into my schedule to regularly take long mental breaks.
It frustrates me that sometimes, we high-achieving, career-oriented young people sacrifice our health and mental well-being for other goals with immediate pay-offs. We’d rather pull an all-nighter to finish a PSET than get some good rest and take a late day. We’d rather skip our morning run and finish up a paper instead than give our brains/bodies the break they need. We often view contemplation and meditation as unneccessary, fluff activities, and they’re the first thing to be cut out of our schedules when we are in a time crunch. I think our generation needs to make a serious effort to shift our thinking and view meditation or exercise or unplugging as MANDATORY AND NECESSARY DAILY ACTIVITIES, or our health and creativity will be seriously jeopardized in the long-run.