BOOKS | Is the Internet turning us into a society of ‘staccato’ thinkers and “chronic scatterbrains”? Nicholas Carr thinks so. The well-known blogger and author made headlines in 2007 with his provocative Atlantic Monthly article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
Now he’s back with a new book called “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains”. Citing evidence from neurological research studies, Carr concludes that heavy use of the Internet is re-wiring our brain and altering our thought processes. Networked thinking has displaced more contemplative, linear thinking. We can absorb many more ideas but only a superficial level.
“Calm, focused, undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts – the faster, the better.”
Carr discusses a troubling trade off: skimming, scanning, clicking hyperlinks, Googling and multitasking at the expense of contemplation, reflection and introspection.
He predicts a counter-cultural movement away from constant Internet connectivity. People will increasingly log out and de-tech in order to reflect and think deeply. With more mental calm and time on our hands, here’s hoping that we gain new perspectives and benefit from unexpected bursts of creativity.
“The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.