While reading the first half of Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, I was able to immediately connect to the text since it constantly makes references that I see in my own life. She does not write it in as negative of a manner as Carr, just realistically which I enjoyed reading. She talks about the unwritten rules of society such as who sits where at the school football game depending on seniority as well as how we have changed the original purpose of social media. I have to agree with Boyd in these chapters, because realistically why do we need to be messaging our best friends right when we get home from school, when we should be interacting with our family or at least taking a break from technology.
The way that Boyd talks about persistence in relation to social media and technology amongst millennials really fascinated me. The example on page 11 really stood out to me; “Alice may write to Bob at midnight while Bob is sound asleep; but when Bob wakes up in the morning or comes back from summer camp three weeks later, that message will still be there waiting for him, even if Alice and Bob had forgotten about it” (Boyd 11). There are so many nights during the week where I fall asleep mid text message conversation, yet it picks right back up when I respond in the morning as if no time has gone by. Since a conversation over technology is not in the present, it can essentially be paused at any time. Just like Bob in Boyd’s example, I also went to overnight camp and had to go through the touch separation from all technology for seven weeks at a time. I would have to disagree with Boyd that a conversation can pick right back up weeks later because from my experience all I wanted when I got home was to sleep and not yet get engulfed in the overwhelming presence of communication through technology. For a number of days though, the conversation can most definitely by paused and picked back up at any time since chances are, it is not that crucial to one’s life if it is occurring through typed out text rather than on the phone or in person.
Many parents give their children a cell phone for the purpose of keeping in contact with them after school or on the weekends. That makes total sense, of course a parent wants to know the whereabouts of their child. But as cell phones and technology become more popular and more present, kids start to live their lives pretty much through technology. Jenny Schmitt is able to further explain this concept in her talk that essentially describes the majority of kids under the age of eighteen. Once a child is given a cell phone, there is no going back.
Throughout the majority of The Shallows, Carr provides great explanations as to how technology has impacted our brain as well as our lifestyle. He has mentioned how our thought processes have been impacted, as well as the different ways technology causes us to go about our daily routines. In the second half of the book he continues to explain what will happen to our brains as a result of choosing the internet over a paper back book. We would rather click from one link to the next to keep briefly learning short snippets of information in a timely manner. Up until this point in the book, I had never pondered the thought that us readers have just as much power as a writer does. We are able to look deeper into the fact that using hypertext to do extensive research has helped us students improve our critical thinking skills by quickly maneuvering through different sources to look at various different viewpoints. Carr states that “the academic enthusiasm for hypertext was further kindled by the belief, in line with the fashionable postmodern theories of the day, that hypertext would overthrow that patriarchal authority of the author and shift power to the reader (Carr 126). Before reading this passage, I had never considered this perspective. It had never occurred to me that the reader can have more power while reading a text than the person who actually wrote the text.
After reading so many passages and responses regarding the negative impacts that reading from the internet has on our brain compared to reading a book, this new viewpoint is quite refreshing. I love the idea that the ball is in now in my court when it comes to reading text online. By taking advantage of my ability to hop from one link to the next, I am a powerful reader with the capability to learn so much more than the author may have intended when he or she originally wrote that particular piece.
Although this may seem like a cheesy Dr. Seuss quote that we have all grown up with, I think it happens to be very fitting for the situation. Not only does it encourage reading, but it shows that reading empowers us just like Carr had mentioned in the second half of the book. We as readers need to take advance of the power we are given when we take on the task of reading, and then jumping to further texts to increase our own knowledge.
Through reading the first six chapters of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, I have gained a new perspective on what the media is doing to society now, and even what it did when technology was first evolving. I feel that what is being discussed in the first chapter is extremely relevant to my life, and the life that most students live today. Carr acknowledges the opinion of Karp, a well-educated man who has a passion for writing, regarding technology and how it is impacting our minds. Carr tells us that “Karp has come to believe that reading lots of short, linked snippets online is a more efficient way to expand his mind than reading ‘250-page books’, though, he says, ‘we can’t yet recognize the superiority of this networked thinking process because we’re measuring it against our old linear thought process’” (Car 8). Reading text online of all different sorts has become a part of our daily lives. Using the internet teaches us new ways of thinking and learning each time we explore something new online.
Everything we do has transformed into a shortened version and our minds have been forced to adapt to this. For example, any post on Twitter can be no more than forty words, meaning posts for this class have to be abbreviated or made into a significantly shorter phrase than an idea may have started out as. For people who have grown up using these methods of technology and have not had to watch society change completely with the growth of technology, there is not as much to get used to because we don’t have an old thought process to measure against, like Karp described in the text.
There are now so many benefits of reading entire books online or through an electronic tool. I read an article online about the benefits of eBooks, which also instantly directed me to further articles just like what was mentioned in The Shallows. For those who are trying to help the environment, that is a huge way to make an impact by putting a stop to purchasing printed books. But from the standpoint of someone who genuinely just wants to grow as a reader, an eBook allows you to look more in depth at certain aspects of the text and often times you can look up a particular word that you are unsure about. Since an eBook has a direct correspondence to the internet, there are always ways to gain more information on a topic or sentence you are reading about.