One quote I liked in particular from The Shallows was from page 63: “The natural state of the human brain, like that of the brains of most of our relatives in the animal kingdom, is one of distractedness.” A few sentences before this quote Carr wrote about how “readers didn’t just become more efficient [over time]. They also became more attentive.” The second quote acknowledges how the human brain is evolving overtime to accommodate the complex activity of reading. The first six chapters of The Shallows roughly outline a brief timeline of the human brain: distracted and scattered in the time of ancient civilizations and cavemen, more developed and focused at the dawn of the invention of writing, and then rapidly becoming more sophisticated and complex as reading and writing became a necessary element to everyday human life. This has been proven true on many accounts, looking back on how the works produced by humans over the years and how they have been getting more complex and sophisticated. With the emergence of modern day technology, humans have evolved more than ever. Our brains have rewired over the decades to adapt to constantly reading in small snippets, very quickly. Our intake of information has dramatically increased due to the greater ease of access to information on countless different topics, aiding to monumental research and general public knowledge. Almost 24/7 we are gathering and processing new information in our brains from all the screens and various signs we read, so of course our brains had to adapt to this new lifestyle that technology has led us to.
This constant intake of information in small bursts has, in a way, brought our brains back to the very distractedness that is mentioned in the quotes. Before the Internet gave us the ability to find new material to read and things to learn, humans had to go to libraries and to research in physical books, sitting in front of books for hours at a time. In order to extract information and learn things from text, readers had to immerse themselves in what they were reading. Today, the opposite is true. If we see an article online of more than a few paragraphs in length, we generally tend to try and find a shorter article on the same topic. Since the emergence of the Internet, we have become accustomed to finding what we need in a few paragraphs or less. This has lead us to become more distracted when presented with a “lengthy” piece of text. Even modern day research suggests ways to cope with the distractedness of our brains while studying (bullet 2, 4, and 7).
While modern technology and the Internet did bring positive monumental change to the world, and our way of living, it has taken a toll on our brains in the form of distractedness and the high demand for quick intake of information. The benefits of this technology does far outweigh the costs, but this proves to show that nothing comes without consequence.