As a 20 year old student, I am stating the obvious when I say that I am a digital native. Although kids my age grew up reading books like Harry Potter and Twilight, we also grew up with Wikipedia and SparkNotes. Technology and the internet were present as I was growing up but now as a young adult our world is predominantly digital. As technology developed, my mind developed along with it. The plasticity of my mind is simply a product of my generation.
In chapter three of The Shallows, Carr talks about the newness of written and literary work. He describes how the transition from an oral world to a written world was especially intellectually demanding because of the amount of attention long-term reading required. Amongst this Carr makes the point: “Our predisposition is to shift our gaze, and hence our attention, from one object to another, to be aware of as much of what’s going on around us as possible.” (63). I believe that this point is not only the epitome of my life but the lives of all digital natives.
When I buckled down to read The Shallows, Carr’s account of his difficulty concentrating while reading could not have been any more relatable as I found myself itching to grab my phone. I came to the realization that while I was reading this book, I was merely receiving information from Carr and my mind is accustomed to acquiring a myriad of information at once from different channels all within my phone. I can receive all different kinds of information whether it is an email from the school president or a CNN video someone shared on Facebook. My mind is always wanting more information because that’s what it’s used to. I speak for my generation when I say that we want to know and form opinions about everything.
At a time where information is so accessible, all I want to do is access it. We are either pulling information or information is being pushed toward us or this is occurring simultaneously. A device as small as our phones gives us the power to know what’s going on around us not just where we live or go to school but all over the world. Even at the beginning of a literary world, way before social media was created, our minds were craving more.
In this video, part of a Social Media Revolution series by Erik Qualmann, we learn about the advancement and the power of the Internet that Carr raves about. Our need for knowledge has created many platforms that are useful and even essential to our everyday lives. For example, through an outlet like LinkedIn, I can connect with not only people I go to school with but anyone I’ve met. I completely agree with the way Carr’s point of describing humanity’s need for awareness because I am a living testimony of it.