The books we read, the dinners we eat, the times we enjoy with our friends: Human beings are a collection of events, a collection of laughter and indecision and so much more. What all of these have in common are the influence they have over our brain’s connectivity. Every time we experience something, for better or for worse, it becomes a part of us.
But what happens when we fray the connections to the outside world? What happens when we disconnect ourselves from the culture of living, which includes the spectrum of events, emotions, and built-up associations between personal reaction and physical event? The understanding is that when we avoid the grandeur of the real world and infuse ourselves with the online world, we begin to lose something vital to who we are. On page 197, Carr uses the last sentence to tie together these thoughts:
“Outsource memory, and culture withers.”
As Carr states, we must renew culture in our lives, using the enormity of living instead of the humdrum of the online world. Surely, the internet is fraught with excitement and possibility. To use the Web is to sojourn on an endless journey, where you dictate your travels, thereby creating your online presence and your culture. You, of course, create culture by what you store in your memory and what you give attention to.
If that attention is given to a medium predicated on speed and quick-reaction, we might be unable to build up certain facilities of our mind. That includes memory, attentiveness, and culture. The web, appearing as a benevolent creature, can drastically alter the content of our lives, both present and future. The entanglement of connections can confuse us; alluring as it may be, who we are and who we will become is hastily changing.
I think Carr provides a valuable point about culture here. On many of my walks around campus, I notice a trend of students with their faces down, locked to their phone screens, walking without a clue as to what is in front of them. This indicates an increasing reliance some have to their phones and their online, connected world. But as we know from this book, the more robust an internet user is, and the more robust their dependence on the online world is, the more likely a permanent alteration to their being will occur.
I feel a complete lack of culture in my life sometimes. Too many people I know are hesitant to discuss larger issues humanity faces, endlessly wrapped up in the shallowness of social media and what not. We are scared to set up a culture of culture, instead leaning toward a culture of lies and inner-validation.
The foundations of a culture prided on this hollowness are beginning, setting up a future where our kids indeed follow suit. So while I worry myself over this reality, I do believe there is a remedy. Engaging in socially active conversations and events, making a point to seek them out in the future, and repeating might blur the necessity we have to our phones. I like to think that there is a greater culture to subscribe to out there.