Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Our Rapid-Fire culture...if we could just slow down

Here in America, today's society is constantly in motion. Living life with the consistent theme of the the common phrase "there is not enough time in a day", Richard DeGrandpre helps explain our culture and the problems arise by such change in our lifestyles in the book, Ritalin Nation: Rapid-Fire Culture and the transformation of Human Consciousness. In the fifties, time was all about relaxation, and leisure activities. Now, the USA is the most fast pace society. Technology is our victim for this abrupt change despite the ideas of making our lives easier and thus more efficient. Ritalin Nation describes technology more in depth by explaining that the changes are making us more impatient everyday with the constant struggle to seek faster ways to do almost everything. One of the many side effects of the speed in society; it can be easily seen that children are suffering the most, nevertheless causing some major problems and concerns.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have been diagnosed extremely frequent and stated by DeGrandpre as an epidemic. Interestingly, ADD and ADHD is not only less common, but almost never used in other countries such as France and Japan (DeGrandpre 10). Statistics show up to 90% of Ritalin is used purely from Americans. Due to people striving for a quick fix by helping children calm down and stay focused, is no exception for the overuse of medication, however, "Ritalin doesn't do what we want it to do, even though parents and teachers perceive and insist that it does" (DeGrandpre 10). Even though Ritalin is proven and sought out to work to improve children behavior and attention, what is even more important is not included: long-term effects on child's social adjustment, cognitive development, or academic performance. Children are the victims of parents overwhelming lifestyles of stress and are used to being entertained every minute and over stimulating. It is no wonder why so many kids are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, yet they are actually normal and the problem lies within our complex and fast society that is wrong. It could simply be that there is an investment on labeling kids and the pharmaceutical companies. They wont complain with the over diagnoses of children because of how much money they make from them. Because doctors label these children with this disorder by the simplest ways such as fidgeting, isn't that a normal trait of a kid anyway? The main theme is to comprehend that ADD is from environmental factors rather then biomedical causes.

Due to the lack of hard medical evidence to confirm the meaning of these symptoms, Ritalin and ADD may simply just be part of pseudoscience instead of a developed disorder. They are syndromes rather than medical illnesses. ADD has never been known as a biomedical cause and has never had a reliable diagnostic exam. Without scientific evidence and unreliable sources, it is clear that prescriptions are purely based for medical establishment. Clearly, with an over reliance of testimony, pseudoscience and Ritalin go hand in hand.

My favorite part of the book was realizing that everyone is effected by our fast pace society. Even with the simplest of things I was able to reflect my own life and know how i am apart of this phenomenon. For example; understanding the concept that car's taillights are larger and brighter nowadays not just as a new style, but rather because were in a constant race to get to the next event or place. Were driving faster and traveling more frequent, it is inevitable that something had to change with the taillights so we don't get into even more accidents. Another reflection I had was with other technological advancements that how I once thought just made my life easier, but now I am able to understand its due to my impatient mind. Honestly, who has not stopped at an ATM that cost $2.00 to take out money because the trip to the bank seemed like a forever drive away? I know that I have several times because I needed it at that point in time and driving somewhere seemed like a silly option that would cost my time, and of course "time is money". I have also realized that there are also things in life that I think that I need rather than things that I simply just want. Shopping online, express delivery or overnight shipping is not something that one usually needs but the concept of really just wanting something as fast as it can be. Another example is with a fast food drive-through, I jumble from one event to the next frequently I don't take the time to stop and make a snack, I simply just go through the drive through and get something and eat it within five minutes which helps me get to my next adventure even faster...which today is all about....fast pace. I have even been in the car at a stop light, then it would turn green and the car behind me would honk if I didn't speed right away from the light. Before reading this book I would have never of stopped and reflected on all of these changes. It is clear to me that the way to live is simple and easier and it would just need to get a little used to but in the long run, better.

Ritalin Nation, expresses using the term slow down. "We're either in a rush, recovering from a rush, or rushing to rush some more" (DeGrandpre 15) Even though technology has proved to make the world "easier" some may say we have become simply lazy. However, we have actually just become impatient. Flipping through channels was a thing in the past, and when someone has to get up today and manually flip through channels they would go crazy without the remote. We have 100's of stations and it would simply take "too long" to flip through. It is not the lazy factor of getting up, its the time it takes to accomplish your goal of changing the channel. Reading this book can provide a new, and better outlook on life. We need to focus on what is really important and keep in mind there are no such things as quick fixes. Children were not diagnosed with ADD and ADHD like they are today. There is a reason for this. It is clear that faster does not mean better, and when one can look back and keep in mind that more technology has caused us to rush and some have lost the aspect of the true meaning of life...living life to its fullest. Slowing down can solve real world problems not just in ADD and ADHD but almost everything as well. For example, spending more time together as a family or not working as much to enjoy things that make one happy can help cure other problems in the world if we just slow down.


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