Have you ever gotten to the hilarious punchline of your long, detailed story, only to find everyone around you missed it due to the fact that they were all more interested in checking Twitter or texting “Jacob from Biology” back? Well, you’re not the only one. This week’s readings suggest our use of the internet and mobile devices may be impacting our brains, our attention spans, and even our ability to communicate.
Why is it that I can’t just sit down and watch a movie? For some reason, I personally find myself simultaneously scrolling through my Tumblr dashboard, Facebook news feed, or Twitter home page. And according to Nicholas Carr, author of the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?“, I’m not the only one with this problem. Carr relates by saying “what the net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.” He goes on to say that his previous abilities of being able to immerse himself in a lengthy news article or novel have seriously waned into now being able only to skim the first few pages without becoming “fidgety.” It’s obvious Carr argues that our ever-deepening dependency on technology is changing our thought processes, but he also believes it’s changing our brain structure; “Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory.”
Yet, even if we were able to multitask, absorb all this information and try to focus on some other task at the same time, it could be quite dangerous, and ultimately, ineffective. In Jon Hamilton’s article, “Multitasking in the Car: Just Like Drunken Driving“, the title says it all.
I think I can speak for just about everyone when I say we have about as much access to information from the web and social media as we do to air. This much access to new information is addictive, too. Think about how many times a day you check any of your social media or email accounts. Sometimes, I feel like a gambler! Probably 1 of every 15 times I check any social media do I find something to write home about, but that high from learning something is enough to keep me refreshing my news feed multiple times a day. Humans are naturally curious and we are always striving to learn something new, however relevant that knowledge may or may not be.
But what do you think? Are there any ways you’ve noticed the internet and mobile devices have changed your thought process? If so, how does this make you feel? If not, what do you think is the explanation for that? Do you think it’s possible to exist with these technological advances without becoming dependent on them and suffering from these changes? Or do you think these changes might not necessarily be a bad thing?