Computer, a Friend or a Foe

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Despite the fact that computers make our lives easier by performing many valuable tasks with greater precision than we, as mere mortals, could ever hope to achieve, they have a major down-side. They can stress and tax our brains in ways that limit our creativity and reduce our ability to perform at our highest levels.

One of the biggest problems with computers is that they are both demanding and rigid. They insist that we communicate with them their way. If we don't enter the precise set of mouse clicks or keystrokes in the exact order that they want, they refuse to budge. No matter how much we protest and hurl profanities at them, they just stare back at us or display some obscure message that provides no clue as to what they want.

Our brains weren't designed to deal with this type of treatment. The frustration and anger that we feel can lead our brains to revert to the primitive "fight or flight" state that the brain enters when it faces danger. In this state our brain begins acting from its gut rather than using its higher level processing centers that are the source of our creativity and rational powers.

As a result, we lose track of the big picture. Instead of being resourceful, we begin making mistakes and bad decisions.

A second problem with computers is that they overload our brains by continually interrupting us with new email or doing things like pointing out minor clerical mistakes. We can be totally absorbed in a task only to have our attention hijacked by a red line that says we just misspelled a word or the computer may decide to do some innovative formatting on our document that we definitely don't want.

Computers can also lure us into the world of multi-tasking. It's hard to resist the idea that we can competently do something else at the same time that we are mindlessly making mouse-clicks even though research shows that we just end up doing both tasks poorly.

The endless distractions provided by computers and our incessant...
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