Are Immediate Response Technologies Psychologically Damaging?

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Apr 22, 2015 5:27:00 PM

There are all these tweets, but no one stops to listen to the birds song. -Mark Kelly, Pacifica's Lead Reference Services Librarian

I feel guilty sometimes working in the social media space of marketing. I wonder if I am I just flooding the internet with more babble, creating 'noise'. Am I a modern day Hermes only producing "instant forms of secular messages rather than spiritual or mythic messages"? And the truth is sometimes I myself want to unplug from my own social media accounts because it's overwhelming.


The immediate response technologies that we have today are amazing though. 

Pacifica professor Dr. Safron Rossi of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies Specialization agrees. As a researcher Dr. Rossi is excited that the world wide web offers her and others the opportunity to visit the online collections of museums, institutes, and other organizations. The access to so much knowledge and people affords us the ability to connect, see and learn things we would never have had the opportunity to explore ten years ago. However, there is a shadow side to all these immediate response technologies.   

Immediate Response Technologies Examples

"Technology has produced a tension between being really present and focused on what is physically before us, and the way we get pulled into the fantasy-land of email, social media, and, instant messaging." On a recent trip to San Diego Dr. Rossi was struck by how many people had their cell phones out as she strolled by the botanic garden. People seem to have a strong desire to capture the moment rather than being still in the moment. And there is another level of reflection that we are missing by not 'being in the moment'. "Thinking into the present moment and thought opens up the psyche and imaginal". Possibilities become endless and new perspectives are gained. By focusing on the idea of capturing a moment we narrow our field of perception. Dr. Rossi feels that in today's world there is a "call towards being anachronistic".

Another topic of concern is how we perceive information versus knowledge. How are both of these terms being compromised with immediate response technologies? When you look up the definition of information it is described as "facts provided or learned about something or someone", and knowledge is defined as "facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education". There needs to be a balance regarding the two. Active learning requires critical thinking which is necessary for our natural development, but if we are constantly just accumulating information passively we are missing growth and transformation. Dr. Rossi wonders "As we get more used to quick teaspoon bits of information, people are having a harder and harder time reading a full novel which can be an experience through knowledge." We are losing that ability to "sink into an imaginal space-a constructive imaginal space. We lose that muscle. Reading, writing, thinking, and reflecting require patience and commitment to sitting down to do those actions. It requires discipline." Immediate response technologies are also psychologically challenging. As an introvert professor Rossi acknowledges the need to move away from people to "re-fill one's psychic energy. There is an expectation of always being connected and that's very taxing on us psychologically."

In the end it comes down to balance. The digital world is a wonderful gift, but it "challenges our impulse control" and can cause stress of always feeling like you have to be connected to 'be on'.

I hope this post was more on the side of knowledge versus information. If I erred on the side of information, then perhaps an MP3 lecture on Greek Mythology would balance you out by offering you some knowledge? 

Rossi, Safron. (2015, March 9). Telephone interview. 


Safron Rossi, Ph.D of Pacifica Graduate InstituteSafron Rossi, Ph.D., is Associate Core Faculty in the Depth psychology Jungian and Archetypal Studies Specialization of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program, teaching courses on mythology and depth psychology. Safron is also Curator of Collections at Opus Archives & Research Center, home of the archival and manuscript collections of scholars including Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Marija Gimbutas, Marion Woodman, and Christine Downing. Her writing and scholarly studies focus on archetypal psychology, the western astrological tradition, goddess traditions, and feminist studies. Safron edited and introduced a volume in Joseph Campbell's Collected Works based on his Goddess mythology lectures titled Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine (2013). She has published articles in Jungian and Archetypal journals and has contributed essays to various volumes including: The Soul Does Not Specialize: Revaluing the Humanities and the Polyvalent Imagination; and Breaking the Plates: Fracturing Fictions and Archetypal Imaginings

Topics: The Psyche, Technology