I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

511. Evolution, The Cassandra Dynamics And Too Much Television

511.  Evolution, The Cassandra Dynamics And Too Much Television

People can close their eyes to end all visual input.  Also daylight is available on average only during half of the life time.  But people can never stop hearing, they can only filter, what they consciously listen to.   
The human brain filters on a subconscious level, which sensory input is allowed into consciousness, and which automatic reactions are elicited.   
On this level, the human brain is still in the evolutionary state of the adaption to when human interactions were limited to a restricted number of personally known people. 
I already have mentioned Kanazawa (, who describes the confounding of virtual and real people by the example of men's reaction to pornography and by the experience of persons on TV as friends.

But the more I ponder over this, the more I can see, that the flooding of the human brain with virtual people has even much more drastic effects than Kanazawa has suggested. 
The invention of the radio, of cheap color photography, of color movies and even more of TV and the internet has created, installed and enhanced the ubiquity of virtual humans.  
Virtual humans are all technically preserved and recorded representations of real humans.  This can be anything auditive or visual, which is realistic enough to expose the brain to the same kind of stimulation as does the presence of real persons.  
Until about a hundred years ago, such representations were rare, because only a limited number of artists were able to produce realistic paintings or sculptures and it was a time consuming occupation.  Only few people could afford to get their likeness done. 

I am convinced that the overwhelming of the brain with the stimulation by too many virtual social and psychological contacts has drastic effects upon attention and communication.  Virtual humans are only a recent technological development, the human brain has had not enough time to evolve the ability to subconsciously cope with the difference between real and virtual humans.  
I am even wondering, if ADD (attention deficit disorder) may not be a logical reaction of the brain to an environment, to which it is maladapted.   Maybe it is even more astonishing, that not more people have such problems.

The environment of the human evolutionary adaptation was an environment, in which hearing a human voice or seeing a human person meant automatically to be in the presence of a real human.    People lived in small groups, knowing all other group members personally or at least by sight.   Strangers were rare.   This did not change much for the majority of people living in villages until more recent times.

Under such circumstances, every perception of another human's verbal or non-verbal expression is a probable source of important information requiring and warranting attention.   The importance of any dialog with significant persons is obvious, but strangers are possibly dangerous and need to be assessed.   Usually only one person requires attention at the same time, no matter if in a dialog or being listened to as a narrator of a story.   
For people living in small groups or villages, the amount of input from human interaction usually does not exceed the attention span of people. While people's span of attention is limited, real people's ability to monologue without a pause is also limited.    Humans have evolved to be able to pay the necessary amount of attention to other humans, that allows them to thrive under such circumstances only.

There are decisive differences between the environment of evolutionary adaptation and the modern life situation, both having a drastic impact upon focusing attention.  These environmental changes confuse and irritate the brain.  
  • The sensory flooding with virtual humans that are confounded with real humans as already mentioned.
  • The recordings of virtual humans get never tired and can be repeated endlessly, even against the wish of those exposed.   
  • The crowding and mingling with strangers, who are not social contacts but part of the environment.   Everyday life includes being in close proximity with strangers, be it in public transport, restaurants, markets, events. 

The brain gets easily habituated to repeated sensory input, as soon as it does not indicate danger.   Not consciously hearing the singing of birds most of the time is an example.   But any expression from a real human in personal contact is an important stimulus to pay attention to.   

I grew up without TV and only listening to selected programs on the radio.   Whenever I happen to enter a household, where people are talking with the TV or radio in the background transmitting spoken language, I observe a difference.  They have successfully learned to filter out all the information from the TV and focus on the conversation.   I have the problem, that the TV distracts my attention against my wish.

The brain cannot pay adequate attention to several voices at the same time.  In this situation, the brain is forced to filter and to select only the most significant information to be consciously processed. Even by repeatedly switching the attention to and fro, processing information from one source means losing information from the others.   Filtering is learned as a result of the necessity to cope with such an input overflow of information.  
When people learn to selectively listen to some chosen voices and ignore the others, this choice is determined or at least influenced by what interests them most and what is important for their personal needs.    People exposed simultaneously to more virtual and real human voices than their brain can process, their attention is predominantly attracted to what pleases, entertains, amuses, thrills or excites them.  They can afford to discard by filtering, whatever they do not like to hear.    It is the same as with food.   When food is scarce, people eat anything, that fills their stomach.   But when food is plentiful and cheap, they only eat their favorite dishes.  

In entry 507 I described the Cassandra Dynamics including the problem of a partner not listening to the warnings of Cassandra in spite of her efforts to communicate, before it is too late.   I am wondering, if the learned selective filtering by the exposition to too much TV has also destroyed the ability to be a partner in constructive communication, whenever listening to unwelcome but necessary information is unpleasant.  
I suspect, that growing up with the TV running all day long, including falling asleep in front of the TV, has a very detrimental effect upon people's ability to decide consciously, what to listen to, even when listening would be beneficial for themselves.  Those people, who have grown up being exposed to too much TV, are at the risk of confounding even their significant other with just another figure on the TV screen.   
On the subconscious level, the brain being generally unable to distinguish between virtual and real humans, filters all pleasant information discarding the rest, indiscriminately of its source.   A dull politician on TV or the partner attempting to communicate about serious matters are both just triggers to mentally zap to something else.  

Unfortunately, such problems are aggravated by people taking too much for granted.   Before someone can learn to listen, he first needs the insight, that listening even to unpleasant feedback is an unavoidable part of making a relationship work.