A concept I’ve been thinking more about is the way we’re “plugged in” to the Net and media as human beings. We’ve developed a mentality that’s dependent on being fed information every hour through a variety of devices. We feel the need to stay current, in the know, refreshing our feeds and timelines to find something new to stimulate and distract ourselves. Not only is this a mental tick and habit, but we learn through Carr that this media usage may be physically and chemically altering our brains and the way we develop thoughts as well.
“Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and the director of its Memory and Aging Center, has been studying the physiological and neurological effects of the use of digital media, and what he’s discovered backs up Merzenich’s belief that the Net causes extensive brain changes. The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains. The daily usage of computers, smartphones, search engines, and other such tools stimulates brain cell alteration and neurotransmitter release, gradually strengthening new neural pathways in our brains while weakening old ones.” (120)
If what Carr is suggesting is true, it’s a true reflection of the way the Net has taken over our brains. But how can we make a direct correlation between the usage of screens and the effect on neural pathways in our brain? I’m unsure of the research which has been done, and although it sounds convincing, it’s also good to raise questions. I think Carr extends his theory at this particular part of the book through providing the physical effects and aspects the media has on us. He illustrates the cycle the Net has on our brains; the more we feed it, the more we need it.
I found the image above and immediately resonated again with the idea of being “plugged in”. This image illustrates a literal depiction of the way we’re mentally connected to the Net and technology at all times, and even goes a step further to suggest the technology is even powering the brain – is that an indication of what’s to come? We become so adapted to the internet, our abilities deteriorate to the point that they are useless? Or will technology become so advanced, we won’t need any literary abilities?