Our driver is never without his smartphone. Neatly dressed, with his polo shirt tucked into his pants, he makes sure that his gadget is positioned near the instrument panel of the car whenever we start any trip. Feeling smart, his eyes are glued to Google map or Waze. But alas, we often get lost. He makes wrong turns repeatedly. Not counting the times that the app is acting dumb, too.
I try to keep my temper in check. And I keep telling him that the app is just there as an assistant and not as the master. That he should stop looking at the graphics and look around. Co-relate the virtual with the real. Note the landmarks, the edifices, the surface of the streets. I should have said observe where the sun is at a given time, or how the clouds move. Make sense of all of these.
We are canceling our own faculties to think - to the robots. Not just the human capacity for logic, but also our common sense, and intuition. And to ponder, throwing further back, man knew how to divine his location and set directions by reading the stars and the behavior of the wind. Like the aborigines of Australia who are reputed to have developed inner compasses and even antennas as well.
In the academic world, the ability or the process with which we understand signs is called semiotics. The website of signsalad said that “signs don’t only need to be visual – they can be aural or sonic signs too, such as the sound of a police siren, usually heard before the vehicle is seen. Semiotics is a key tool to ensure that intended meanings (of, for instance, a piece of communication or a new product) are unambiguously understood by the person on the receiving end. “
Technology has made us consumers, but not digesters. We overlook the nutrition in all these signs, making fast food out of all the data available.
I was aghast when I went back to teaching college students a while back. Nobody was taking notes. Everybody was using his/her phone to photograph the lectures on the board. And I bet my last depreciated peso, none of them would be looking back at those visuals. When the fact is science has already proven that man retains information when he is physically taking notes.
I think it was the former USA vice president Al Gore, in his book The Future, who warned us about our growing dependence on our own external hard drive, our gizmos and all the data rolling around the cyber universe. We access, we use, and then we forget – because our brains are not engaged in processing the data. In Filipino, we term it as kabisote. The person copies and recites but does not really comprehend.
Much like the trolls. They post statements with so much conviction but when confronted with a processed rebuttal, they resort to non-sequiturs and expletives. Nawaglit ang utak. Corrupted ang data. This is so dangerous that is why we have to push back.