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.