The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
The topic of The Shallows intrigued me. It’s a book about our increasingly shallow thought patterns as a result of using the internet.
As a society we glorify busyness, multi-tasking and accomplishing several things at one time at the expense of deep thinking. We’re losing our ability to focus, concentrate and contemplate. We hurry from one item to the next barely skimming the surface.
The author comments on just how much our mind multi-tasks when reading an article on the internet. We first skim the article to find the portions of interest. We then decide within seconds whether or not to click on the hyperlinks in the article. Upon clicking the link we’re brought to another page. Sometimes the page is related to the original subject matter and other times it’s not. That second page can send us on another adventure somewhat related to the first article, or maybe in a whole new direction.
This continues link after link. The result is a broad superficial knowledge without much depth.
Mr. Carr goes into explicit detail of the inner workings of the mind. He also takes the reader on a historical journey dating back to the origins of communication (oral), to written communication (scribes), up to and through the printing press to modern-day Internet. With each change in technology, the human mind and social patterns changed and adapted.
One common theme throughout the book is, we create technology then technology creates us. Think about it. In the short time it took you to skim this article, how many times did you check your email, Facebook, Twitter account or other form of social media?
The Shallows provides plenty of food for thought. At times, the physiological details about the brain and its functions were a bit much, but he does give the reader plenty of background on why we think and act as we do and what we can do to retrain our own brains.
If you haven’t read this book, pick up a copy. It’s worth reading.
This is another of several posts that came from a blog of mine that I decided to discontinue. Instead of letting all of the content go into oblivion, I decided to capture it here.