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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Internet and the Degeneration of Reading

Clifford McKeon
There are many aspects to Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows that I disagree with, but one aspect that I am convinced is happening is our society is the dumbing down of our reading capabilities. It is easy to see how mediums such as cell phones, computers, and radios have slowly reduced them. In chapter eighteen Carr discusses these points on how society invented writing, how reading flourished, and todays’ reading society. I have always believed that mediums were slowly lessening our reading/writing capacities and now Carr’s novel has reinforced my belief. 
Carr starts off chapter 18 by showing man’s want to read and make reading easier and more accessible. In the ancient world writing was considered highly valuable. Car states, When people first began writing things down, they’d scratch their marks on… rocks, wood, bark, bits of cloth, pieces of bone, chunks of broken pottery” (58). Ancient civilizations had to be extremely skilled in the art of reading unlike today. They had many factors to overcome while reading which took the absolute undivided attention. They had to overcome reading on these inadequate objects, such as bark. They also had a different style of writing called scriptura continua which contained no spaces between words. Imagine how focused you would have to be to break up the words in a sentence while simultaneously reading it. Carr says that the art of reading takes an extreme amount of mental discipline. Linking our ability to shut down our own animal instinct, of responsiveness to environment, to be able to. Sadly, all of this progress is diminishing due to a modern invention, the internet.
I internet is single handedly destroying our ability to read. As stated in the previous paragraph it took lots of concentration for humans to learn to read and eventually become advanced readers. The internet does not allow for this. One of the reasons is that people can access information so quickly. I noticed that whenever I am reading or writing something of importance on the computer, in the back of my mind there is always a voice telling me, “Check YouTube” or “Wow look at that link on the side of the page”. The internet has all this information for us to read, but the way it presents it is what is destroying our ability to read. Advertisements and links flood pages luring helpless page viewers from one page to the next. Reading is all about focusing and losing one’s self and the internet has dwindled down our attention spans.
To conclude, our future does not seem to look bright when it comes to reading and writing. All of human’s society’s effort and progress is slowly being mutated. No longer is it sitting down reading a book or a newspaper. It’s all about how many web pages you can view simultaneously without fully absorbing all the information from any of them. Who knows what the future will be like we can only speculate. In today’s fast paced society we multitask, we skim through readings, and the little bit writing we do is regularly filled with acronyms. Maybe the “LOLs”, “BRBs”, and “HMUs” will be acceptable words in books one day… that’s if we still use books.


  1. I couldn't agree more. I don't know exactly how the internet is affecting our reading, but it certainly isn't good. It scares me to think what we will all be like in 100 years from now. Who knows. But good job I like this post.

    Dan Murphy

  2. I agree with a lot of what you said. If people overuse technology their "internet lingo", it may just become the way they read and write everything. You made a good point, and this was a well written post.

    Meagan Cox