The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
I could barely read this book or write this post because the Internet is rewiring my brain!!
But really, I think Nicholas Carr is onto something here. Has anyone else noticed their attention span dwindling? Anybody?
Turns out, our brains are responding to the Internet’s stimuli, and there’s some different brain activity resulting from that. Scary, no?
Here’s a nice, succinct summary from Mr. Carr: “…when we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. It’s possible to think deeply while surfing the Net, just as it’s possible to think shallowly while reading a book, but that’s not the type of thinking the technology encourages and rewards” (pp. 115-116)
The other thing I found interesting is that the happy futurists like to talk about brain studies that show increased brain activity among Internet users in comparison with dull old readers. But… as Carr points out, “deep reading becomes a form of deep thinking. The mind of the experienced book reader is a calm mind, not a buzzing one.” (p. 123)
I swear, when I read that sentence, I knew reading this book was well worth it. In that sentence, the author captures the wonderful slowness of reading. Even if one is reading hella fast. (I read pretty fast.) Reading is calming.
For a person who completely failed at her first attempt at meditation (don’t ask) and who tends to get fairly tense when knitting (which is supposed to be one of those meditative activities—for some people, apparently), it’s soothing as all heck to realize that I actually found something (since age 5) that soothes and slows the racing mind.
OK, gotta go. There’s facebook updates to read. And Twitter’s a-calling my name…
[See how distracted you got when those facebook and Twitter links appeared in that last line? That’s cuz our brains know they have to make a choice: to click or not to click? It frazzles our poor little brains! We are simple things. Yet not. Yet so.]
[Also– Did anyone happen to scan this post in an “F” shaped eye-scan motion? Apparently that’s how we tend to scan online — our eyes scan in the shape of an upper-case letter “F” — across the top line, then partway across another line, then along the left column. So if you’re actually reading this here, probably You Didn’t Scan That Way! Good little reader.]