Tackling Technology

I was taken aback when I read the first six chapters of “The Shallows”. It is the kind of book that makes you reflect on your own choices, especially how the Internet could be effecting my brain in such a profound way. Cognition is a part of my studies as a psychology major, and the book made me think about technology’s role in our brain processes. Perhaps it is affecting our brains more than we realize. I believe the role of inattention will become more clear when the millennials are as old as the baby boomers are now, and we’ve had a lifetime to observe what happens when you grow up with the Internet.

I am glad Carr started off with a firsthand account of his experience with inattention and then followed up with similar stories from his peers. I think setting the stage like that in the beginning of the book gave his idea a sort of legitimacy. I found it hard to fairly judge myself on whether I am more of a skimmer than a deep reader like Carr did.

“Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”(6-7)

I had not considered before the way the Internet trains our brain to receive information. As you scroll down a social media feed, you read and skim (or zip) as fast as your thumb can take you based on what you are interested in. I suppose in today’s world the overexposure to this task can reprogram us in a way, meaning it is harder to read when we try to be scuba divers again. The way Carr describes the Net as his “all-purpose medium” made me realize how true that is for me too. Internet research, GPS, my interpersonal connections on social media, and Apple Music are so ingrained into my life it would be hard to imagine getting through my week without them. I never considered how those things might affect my attention, because if I ever did I may have been forced to make changes. Inattention is a cause as well as a symptom of many psychological disorders if it is spread out over a long period, so it makes you think. The Internet is a double-edged sword, but it is one that we’re going to have to figure out how to manage in a healthy way as a generation.

 

 

 

Author: Alexandra

I am a junior Psychology major with a Writing minor at University of Delaware.

6 thoughts on “Tackling Technology”

  1. Alex, I like your point that what Carr has to offer is something more like a prediction than a diagnosis. Since we’re still just learning how to live with the internet, it will take some time for us to really know how it is affecting us. ~Joe

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    1. I agree with you that it is difficult to determine whether or not the internet is really reshaping the way we think. I also agree that perhaps when we’ve entered the middle part of our life spans, it will be clearer to us as to whether we are more of the “deep reading” or more the “skimming” type. Moreover, at the same time, we as digital natives may never be able to tell if the internet shapes the way that we think if technology and our means of communication do not change very much by the time we are our parents’ age.

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  2. I tend to think my myself as more of a skimmer- as shown by how long it takes me to read a book or long article with minimal interruptions from my phone. I have always noticed this but have just thought I was an embarrassingly slow reader, but after reading The Shallows I have come to notice that this is a worldwide observation that is largely due to the presence of the shortness of Internet texts.

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  3. “I suppose in today’s world the overexposure to this task can reprogram us in a way”
    I personally think it’s funny that the internet has trained us to only read short things to the point where, when confronted with multiple paragraphs on screen, people will often completely skip the post. We even made up the acronym tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) to express this phenomenon. I’ll often ignore social media posts or images with lots of words. It’s funny how even relatively short things on the internet are considered to be too long and people request a recap.

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  4. I really like Carr’s analogy that you included in this post. I like to think of myself as a “scuba diver in the sea of words”, but sometimes I feel as if I am more like the jet skier zipping on the surface. However, nowadays, I believe that it is important to be able to act in both of these ways. While it is important to be able to dive deep into what you are reading, sometimes it is more beneficial and time efficient to skim for the information you need.

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  5. Good stuff guys-I’m glad I am not the only skimmer in our group. I agree that it can be beneficial sometimes, especially on the platforms we’re usually reading on. However, attention to detail or “diving deep” is probably best when you need to retain the information.

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