Losing our ability to strike a balance

Published by Lori Pickert on July 20, 2010 at 01:40 AM

According to The Shallows, a new book by technology sage Nicholas Carr, our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand lengthy textual information. Round-the-clock news feeds leave us hyperlinking from one article to the next — without necessarily engaging fully with any of the content; our reading is frequently interrupted by the ping of the latest email; and we are now absorbing short bursts of words on Twitter and Facebook more regularly than longer texts.

Which all means that although, because of the internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits, we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other. And so, as Carr writes, “we’re losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we’re in perpetual locomotion”.The Art of Slow Reading


Comment by Sheila on July 20, 2010 at 11:32 PM

A friend of mine wrote about this and I teased her by saying that I was too busy becoming an expert on Wikipedia and could I download this book onto my Touch to read later. The difference, as I see it, is that I was teasing while most 20-somethings I know aren't. I find is depressing. We're all surface experts.

Comment by se7en on July 21, 2010 at 12:32 AM

I love that you always have things that say what I think without me even realizing that I needed to say it!!! I have really found that when I totally run out of ideas and inspiration that the last place to turn to is the internet and all the bookmarks I have stored for a rainy day, well if I deleted them I wouldn't miss them. And frankly when I need inspiration a day outdoors and a sit on the beach while the kids play, will restore my inspired self and take away the staleness.

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 21, 2010 at 02:22 AM

sheila, i agree, and i think we're creating these surface experts (great term!) with our current education system. we're making college-age kids who can't or won't tackle difficult works of literature, complex ideas, long-term projects.

one problem is, these kids are talking to each other and working together in the same way .. there isn't anyone to point out the emperor is naked. i keep reading articles by college professors bemoaning how today's students can't read, can't write, can't debate, can't *think*. but even worse -- they *think* they *can*!

we've not only impaired them intellectually, we've given them a completely false idea of their own abilities.

se7en, i'm glad i could do that. :^)

so true re: a day outside .. it really refills the well. there is something empty and unsatisfying about a lot of time spent trolling the internet; it's like empty calories. with nicotine.

Comment by Jill on July 26, 2010 at 01:05 PM

I really want to read that book now!

"there is something empty and unsatisfying about a lot of time spent trolling the internet" Isn't THAT the truth!?

I'm glad to be able to come here and get some real nutrition for my brain!

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 26, 2010 at 06:27 PM

hi jill! :^D)

you are so sweet .. thank you!


Comment by Lisa on August 2, 2010 at 09:59 PM

So true. I unwittingly participated in the destruction of my kids' attention spans by letting them have cell phones. Talk about opening Pandora's Box of inattention and distraction! I've know high-powered rainmakers in huge law firms who are on the phone less than my kids. I had to become the Phone Nazi and HIDE them in the evening so they can decompress and SLEEP.

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