An Evolution

The beginning chapters of The Shallows by Nicholas Carr address the argument that the brain has been changed by technology.  I don’t agree with Carr in the sense that technology has fundamentally changed our brains, but instead changed how we have to use our brains.  A quote that really stood out to me in the first six chapters was: “The history of language is also a history of the mind”(Carr 51).  Before the internet was a prominent part of society, how people used their minds was much different than today.  I believe that the way we think and use our brains has evolved over time.

As technology has continued to revolutionize, so has the way our minds work.  The language we use has also evolved with technology, and therefore, the language we use evolves with our mind.  Carr explains how reading long books has become harder and harder with the development of platforms that allow you to connect to information much faster.  Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have altered our language.  Words have become abbreviated and condensed in order to fit full thoughts into 140 characters.  I personally find myself using slang that was born on social media platforms in conversations.  Words like “yolo” have become an official word in the dictionary, and we need to adjust to the way language is evolving.

Going back to an article that was shared on Twitter, emoji’s have become a common aspect of our online language and often blur the lines of what we are trying to communicate.  Speaking to each other through pictures is another advancement that our language has made, and our minds had to learn how to perceive and hold a conversation using those images.  Language has grown tremendously from having no spaces between words to using images of smiley faces and vegetables to talk to each other.  I believe while our brains are fundamentally the same, we use our minds in a different way in order to use today’s language to communicate.  On the other hand, the new language has come with consequences like emphasizing the generation gap.  The article linked earlier shows how an older generation can misinterpret language predominately used in texting and social media platforms.  In order to seamlessly communicate with each other, every generation must conform their minds to the evolution of language and technology.

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Author: Jessica Leibman

I am a Freshman at the University of Delaware and I am majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. I want to add my voice to current issues we face.

6 thoughts on “An Evolution”

  1. Two questions raised by this: What is the future of language? What is the ‘fundamental’ state of the brain?
    Your concluding paragraph implies that we are heading towards a complete simplification/minimization of language. If people have trouble communicating even now (generation gap), what does that mean for future generations? Will my grandkids be speaking an incomprehensible tongue? I think this is the heart of the issue you write about, that the evolution of language is leading us down a hazardous path.
    The fundamental sameness of our brains argument is intriguing: looking forward to hearing your thoughts on that.

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  2. Jessica, For me the key question has to do with how to identify what it is that is actually changing. Carr seems to feel that it’s our brains. But the changes you describe here seem to have more to do with culture, with how we communicate and interact with one another, than with changes in our processes of thought. I’ll be interested to talk more about these issues with you! ~Joe

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  3. It’s interesting to note the way in which the simplification of our language and addition of emojis, primarily thanks to texting and social media, has broadened the generation gap and made it more difficult for millennials to communicate with those who didn’t grow up in the Internet age. It’s almost as if there’s a sort of language barrier forming that consists of the new abbreviations and slang terms that seem to be multiplying by the day. Even as a millennial myself I’ve encountered several instances when talking to my friends’ younger siblings where I had to ask for clarification of certain references and phrases that I had never heard before. Unfortunately, it can be assumed that this language-induced division will only get worse as technology continues to expand.

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  4. The way you worded and related the quote and concept back to something that most of us at this age can relate to, social media got me thinking in a different way. At first I was just agreeing with Carr for the most part about how technology has changed our way of thinking, but maybe it isn’t the cause. Maybe technology just shaped the way without being the only reason our brains work the way they do. This was really well worded and thought out and I enjoyed the way you expanded on language on different platforms.

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  5. In my response, I was trying to highlight the fact that technology is creating language barriers. Technology is usually thought of an advancement and making things easier for people, but in this case, it is creating issues. Also, after re-reading my response and some of the comments I realized that I probably didn’t use the best wording in my response for what I was trying to say. I more meant that the culture around language and how we communicate is changing not so much the way we think.

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