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.
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.