We Aren’t the Problem, Technology is

The title of this blog post is a thought that was subconsciously going through my mind while reading The Shallows. The loss of our concentration, our focus, and our ability to hold face to face interactions all stem from an increased use of technology, as Carr intricately laid out for us throughout the book. Nothing was ever made to seem like it was our fault. We just fell victim to the technological revolution. However, chapter seven made me deeply question the reality of the situation. The chapter goes into more depth about our need for instant gratification, how social media can lead to self-consciousness, and how people can barely resist the urge to use technology.

social-media-communication
A free photo taken from Wikipedia Commons to demonstrate the importance of choosing what to pay attention to and how that affects what we think about.  

As I read through the chapter, I began to question whether or not technology is really the cause of all of these problems or whether it is just the fuel to the fire. I think people have always been self-conscious, craving gratification, and feeling a desire to be constantly connected. The difference is that now through technology we have a way to reveal those issues without judgment, because it is apparent that others feel this way too, while in the past we did not. I am starting to believe that technology is not the problem, but the way we choose to use it is. It is within our own personal power to resist the pull of technology, to set our phones down at the dinner table, to be comfortable enough in our own bodies that we don’t define ourselves by how many likes our Instagram pictures get. 

I feel that maybe Carr does not touch on that outlook very often until the further chapters. In chapter eight he includes a quote by novelist, David Foster Wallace: “Learning how to think’ really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.” So maybe technology is not the problem, but the way that we think is. It can be concluded from Wallace’s quote that if we consciously think about how technology is affecting us, we can choose to let it have less control over us. Since our education, careers, and social lives are wrapped up in technology this may be difficult to do; however, just exercising the slightest bit of resistance to technology can help us find the technological relief we are looking for. I think this would have been an important quote for Carr to include at the beginning of the book rather than the end, so that readers can keep an open mind on the subject, but I also think it would have been damaging to the argument he presented in the first half of it as well.

Author: Molly O'Neill

I am an Organizational and Community Leadership major and a Writing minor at the University of Delaware. I am also a dedicated member of the DE Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi and the UD Equestrian Team.

5 thoughts on “We Aren’t the Problem, Technology is”

  1. I really like how you talk about the idea that technology might not necessary be causing us to crave attention, be self-conscious, etc, but rather it might simply make our wants for these things more pronounced. I tend to agree with that general idea. I think that people have always had some vain and narcissistic tendencies. However, I feel the with the development of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, those tendencies can be fulfilled more readily and more publicly. So, for example, when I hear someone say that our generation is really narcissistic, I agree with them, but I don’t think that it’s because social media makes us more narcissistic. I think it’s that we simply now have platforms to show off to other people more easily.

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  2. I very much agree with your argument here, as I myself wrote about a similar topic in my post. The technology of the Internet is not inherently the issue, just like any addiction or controlling problem in someones life is not the problem in it of itself, its ones self control and ability to understand what is going on that is the problem. To blame the issues associated with the Internet solely on the source itself would be unwise.

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  3. Your argument is something I strongly agree with and somewhat incorporated into my post. It definitely all comes down to the way we think. Technology does have the power to control our minds but it is up to us to realize what is happening. To realize that it is unnecessary to check instagram every 10 minutes or tweet about what you’re doing every hour of the day. Although those things can be fun they can also be detrimental to our insecurities but it all boils down to the person and their usage.

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  4. I like how you talked about our need for instant gratification, I think that pull is one of the main things that drives us to be so connected to our phones. I think your idea of trying to exercise more control over your mind and what you think about is good. I find I need help with this when I try, I usually have to put my phone out of my line of vision while I work on homework. I read this article that even if you don’t use your phone and it is just around you while you’re trying to concentrate is detrimental.

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  5. It’s interesting that we all have a similar perspective on this topic after reading Carr’s point of view. He spent the entirety of the novel explaining how technology is the problem, but afterwords we all believe that in some way we are a part of the problem. I wonder how Carr would feel about this.

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