Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Progress requires Adaptation
Lets face it; Nicholas Carr states what everyone is thinking. We are losing our attention span, and it could very possibly be our own fault. He brings up the fact that we went from using forms of communication like books, paper and handwriting to relying on sites like Google and overall, the Internet. He said that our brains can learn to in a way ‘remap’ themselves and that its been scientifically tested. So that makes me think a little. Before we had Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter what did we spend our time doing? Sadly, I, as well as others I have spoken with cannot answer that question simply because we don’t remember.
Immediately after reading through the first few chapters of “The Shallows,” I started to think to myself about whether or not I agree with the statements Carr was making. The communication we were used to was writing letters to each other on paper, reading newspapers and books, listening to the radio and telling stories. But it has now turned into communicating through tweeting, posting on the news feed and more. This could be, and very well is, affecting us and how we think. Using the Internet to now obtain information, Carr states, “it was then that [he] began worrying about [his] inability to pay attention to one thing for more than a couple of minutes” (Carr 16). He soon came to realize that it wasn’t due to a “middle-aged mind rot” (16), but that it was his brain that was beginning to “remap” itself. And I agree, but its more complex than that.
In chapter 2, Carr goes on to talk about more of the neurological aspects of the brain. He says that according to James Olds, a neuroscience professor, “our neurons are always breaking old connections and forming new ones, and brand-new nerve cells are always being created…the brain has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions” (27). I couldn’t agree more. Yes, our brains may be remapping itself due to the use of the Internet, and although I used to think its bad, I may not anymore. I have come to realize that although we may find ourselves more impatient now than before, and although we gather and communicate information differently than we used to, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. If our brain has the ability to “reprogram itself on the fly” then that’s what I believe has been happening to us since the start of the Internet. Our generation is in a rapid movement of evolving our technology as much as we can. It’s a nonstop process, and with that comes the need to adapt to the changes being made. Take writing for example. People have been writing for nearly thousands of years, and it all started by hand. Back then there were no printing companies to mass-produce the books. But as they came to be, people adapted to the new technology. It’s when something new that is introduced to we typically find ourselves intrigued and thinking of ways to evolve it even more. And that is what could be happening to the Internet. It only came around nearly 25 years ago, and like it was mentioned, our brains must now alter the way it functions. So although we see a change in our ways of learning and thinking, doesn’t mean its necessarily bad. Its just different, and we must adapt to it. Who knows, maybe within the next 50-100 years we will have to adapt to something bigger than the Internet.