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The photo on top is my spouse Muriel on the left and my sister Taeko on the right taken in South Africa. Picture on the right is me, Tad Mitsui and my cat, George.
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SYSTEMS CREATED BY IMAGINATION:
“No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot,” said Mark Twain. What troubles me nowadays is what is called “Post-Truth” culture. Facts are called “fake news” when it’s true, scary scientific evidence is dismissed as “unbalanced.” Innocence or guilt is determined by partisan votes. Popular votes are rejected by the “Electoral College” like in 2015. After Japan was defeated in 1945, a bunch of cheeky 7th grade boys voted to resolve “Cheating in exam is acceptable” after a talk by an United States Information Service agent who came to school to explain the principles of democracy. That kind of idiocy is nothing new. “Democracy is the worst form of government,” said Winston Churchill. Hitler was first democratically elected. Does that make us idiots, ready to repeat the same terrible mistakes?
Historian Yuval Harari said, “humans think in stories not in facts, numbers, and equations.” It’s what makes us human. Animals see only facts and do not see beyond what’s apparent. This is also how we make arts and music, come up with new ideas and ideologies, and imagine existence of the power beyond the visible. In other words, we write scripts and stories, and have faith in the system we have created. Money is such a system, a created mechanism. And it works. The value of money is nothing but the trust in the system of exchange we agree on. Without the trust, money is a mere IOU written on a piece of paper. “In God we trust.” says Greenback.
Science is another one; it is the efforts by human persons who try to prove hypothesis to be real by accumulating facts. Human society is built with institutions, mechanisms, organizations, systems, and structures created in the mind of people, and by trust in what is imagined. They can be called ethics, ideals, ideologies, and principles.
Since imagination is invisible, greed and hubris can easily deceive public with “fake news” for the benefit of a few. But deception fails eventually . Like the famous saying: You can fool some people all the time; you can fool all the people some of the time; but you can not fool all the people all the time. Time will come when deception is exposed. Humans think beyond facts. We think and behave according to the common stories we share. Trust works when there is evid4ence of truth in the story. If there isn’t, it fails; often tragically.
I saw a woman of certain age at a restaurant, who was obviously addicted to her phone. She looked at and clicked on the devise every few minutes. Her table was next to ours. I felt guilty lurking, but could not help it because her behaviour was so extraordinary. Her sister, I assumed she was judging from the resemblance, kept putting her hand on sister’s phone to restrain her. In the end, the woman put her phone on her laps and continued checking it while eating dinner. If that was not addiction, what else could it be called? I shuddered to think of her driving a car. However, one sees similar scenes everywhere nowadays.
I saw a recent statistics showing that the traffic fatality caused by distracted driving is six times that of driving while intoxicated. It is 16% of all road fatalities. Most are cases of speaking or texting on the phone while driving. The report says it is now the leading cause of death on the road. It is a very serious problem, more serious than that of death by opioid overdose. Why is it then the problem is not talked about more prominently?
I understand that addiction to internet causes damages to the same organ made by other types of addiction like alcohol, drugs, and gambling. I also understand that internet addiction is caused by not merely psychological but also biological change. It is a serious public health issue. Digital technology has now become integral part of our life. Society would not function without it. Then the question is; what can you do to avoid the damaging effect of internet addiction?
Speaking as a recovered dialled-up “Chat Room” addict (remember those days?), the solution is the same as that for any other addictions: Disciplined consumption. It can be harder than “cold turkey.” Besides, total abstention often does not work. It has been tried before with drugs. We can get addicted to all sorts of things, not only to alcohol and drugs. But you can keep consuming under a strict regime with right amount, frequency, and timing, without being totally destroyed. We can avoid destructive result of addiction to devises by setting time, duration, and frequency. It takes will-power. Once it becomes a habit, it is easier. This is what we do with alcohol, food, and recreation; disciplined consumption. All can be good for you in moderation.