Sunday, 22 June 2008

scary situation

On the Atlantic Magazine's website Nicolas Carr published an article on how he feels after a decade on the Internet. The scary thing is that I recognize the same symptoms in myself.

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. My mind isn't going—so far as I can tell—but it's changing. I'm not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I'm reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I'd spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That's rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I'm always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

I think I know what's going on. For more than a decade now, I've been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet.

This is really scary.

8 comments:

Juf Jo said...

comejoin us in the 1930's life is better here, come read a book by the fireplace or just listen to the wireless.

Nicole said...

I've been online since 1996 and I can't say I feel the same. I still love to read books, I can still immerse myself into subjects and I don't feel that my brain is much different. But, I do have other things that I do, like cross stitch, cake baking, designing or colouring mandalas, some of these things require concentration and good patience, perhaps this serves to equalise the brain. And - I know a lot of people who have nothing to do with the internet and they're impatient fidgeters who can't keep a conversation because they've lost a thought after 30 seconds. They often flip TV channels endlessly. It drives me insane.

Anonymous said...

Very scary. The internet is like a drug.

Kees said...

@Juf Jo: you probably spend more time on the net than I do, posting to your 20 blogs and forums! And I have central heating and cable.

Vincent said...

@ Joeri: Het begint nu wel een beetje een kapotte plaat te worden he, dat "de jaren 30 waren beter" gereutel. Zo'n beetje elk gemopper op iets hedendaags wordt aangegrepen om het geloof van jouw kerk te verkondigen. Jammer.

@ Kees: Ik begrijp wat je bedoelt maar het is moeilijk uit te leggen. Ook ondervind ik dit gedrag alleen als ik met m'n computer bezig ben denk ik. Omdat ik erg veel andere dingen doe raakt het mij niet zo denk ik. Wel lees ik absoluut minder boeken wat ik wel jammer vind. Maar ja, computer werk is eigenlijk voor het grootste del lezen en dan ben ik nog programmeur ook... Weekenden weg en dan met een boek op bed op het terras is geweldig. Je zou eens een weekendje met Collins of zo naar Maastricht moeten gaan. Boek mee, computer thuis. Knap je van op. Ik weet nog een goed hotel en een goed Belgisch restaurant daar ;-)

Vincent said...

PS: Collins zal het goed hebben in het Crowne plaza want ze serveren daar bitterballen waar je U tegen zegt. James Gate kan wel inpakken ;-)

Renate said...

maybe it's got something to do with the fact that you've already read 10 times as many books as the next avid reader and there are not many new plots to keep you glued to the pages? and maybe it's got to do with the fact that your mind is busy with other things these days too?

Anyway, I don't think you've changed _that_ much since you got me hooked to the net in 1993 - other than that you are about 4 sizes smaller now ;-)

Juf Jo said...

Tja als je eenmaal het licht ziet is het moeilijk zij die nog in het duister leven de goede weg te wijzen...

Kapotte platen waren er overigensch ook al meer in de jaren 30! :P

I do spend a LOT of time online, and I have changed a lot.
The internet is indeed to blame because thats how I found other people like me.
Mind you, I am a better person then I was 15 years ago, just ask the police ;)