My Mind is My Oyster

Carr’s point on the mechanical clock is enlightening. His short passage on page 43 has helped me understand the impact of tools and devices in my life. Carr argues that the qualities of technology have a profound effect on our way of thinking: in the way we see ourselves. The power to change the state of one’s mind is a power worth having. In understanding how devices in my life may shape me, I can make better decisions to mold my mind as I see fit. Just as Carr says technology is an effort to shape the world around us, I find it inadvertently shapes ourselves.

The qualities of technology quietly impart a change on our mental state. Take for example the tools that measure time. The precise, constant ticking of the mechanical clock is sequential. It is logical. The mechanical clock has a mathematical focus as it tells time with numbers while dividing time in halves and quarters. The result of technological qualities is an educational effect on the user: an emphasis on understanding sequences, on action relative to time, and on seeing the flow of time as physical movement. This leads to a change in how the user of the clock thinks. Technology has a different effect even within the same concept or task it attends to. A mechanical clock gives quite the different concepts and lessons to the user than a digital watch does. There is no visual aid to see the quarters and halves of time, or to see the ticking of the hands on a digital watch. It is a simplification of time. On the other hand, one must read a mechanical clock by being aware of the positioning of the hands and seeing physical movement. But a digital clock is simply lights. It is essentially like looking at a still television or a screen-saver on a computer.

How does technology facilitate changes in my mental state? What impact does Twitter have on my way of thinking over time? Some notable qualities of Twitter: the main page is covered in pictures with tweets from celebrities, and significant institutions. Information is conveyed in short blurbs of 140 characters. That is not an abundance of space to make a serious case for any argument or claim. The most prominent aspect of Twitter: the space limitation, causes the user to condense complex ideas. Perhaps, in some cases, Twitter causes us to forget how to form complex thoughts and processes. When I look at tweets from Donald Trump, I see broad sweeping exclamations that are inherently baseless: there is no in depth explanation or linking of external texts/resources. Context is forgotten, ignored, or left a complete mystery. In a Nordstrom Tweet it is nigh-impossible to understand the motives of Trump, unless the tweet is taken at face value: even then different perceptions arise. Use of Twitter causes change to one’s mental qualities and values. Twitter values speed of information discharge and absorption. It leads to a mental value that baseless claims or exclamations are acceptable or even desirable. It causes context to become obsolete and absent in information and communication. Technology affects the mental state of us all. Our choices of technological use have profound and far reaching effects that we struggle to perceive. I look to the future with a greater awareness of how the devices in my life may impact my thought process and mental state. I will take the utmost care of my oyster!

Author: Graham C

Student at the University of Delaware writing to be the best I can be!

4 thoughts on “My Mind is My Oyster”

  1. Your argument is very interesting and in many ways similar to what I was trying to say in my response. The way I understood what you wrote is that technology is altering the way we must use our brains, and I agree with that. I also agree with the fact that technology has simplified tasks for us, and even though technology is evolving, it isn’t helping our brains evolve.

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  2. I thought your analysis of the measure of time as a technology that affects our thought processes was extremely creative and made me look at Carr’s meaning of “technology” in a different light. Up until reading your post it hadn’t occurred to me that the term could (and should) be applied to aspects to other than the obvious choices of computers, cellphones and social media. As for Twitter, I fully agree that its limited character style makes it nearly impossible to express fully-formed thoughts or opinions and allows the website to very much control the format of users ideas.

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  3. Perhaps there is regression in some areas, progression in other parts (evolution/devolution). I believe that younger kids have an easier and easier time in multitasking: but I think it’s fair to say that technology is certainly evolving our brains as a whole: more capable at paying attention to many different small pieces of information/less capable at focusing on single, long pieces of info. It seems to be a tradeoff of sorts. .
    The idea I was trying to convey was that the subtle qualities of tech (mechanical clock example) have subtle/discreet changes to our ways of thinking, of our way of perceiving ourselves. (Clock has a mathematical/precise/logical focus->this is imparted to us).

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  4. Graham, A thoughtful response! While I certainly agree with you (and Carr) that technologies can shape our habits of mind, I’d want to distinguish between that sort of influence and determining the ways we think. Sure, Twitter constrains what its users can express in a single tweet—but so do haikus and sonnets. And while clearly Twitter suits the style of someone like Trump, I feel pretty sure it didn’t create Trump. He did that on his own. So . . . a lot of stuff to work and talk through here. Good start! ~Joe

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