Saturday, April 14, 2012

welcoming frenziedness into our souls #1

Yes, you read it correctly. And "frenziedness" isn't even a word yet. Give it a few minutes.

That was the parting shot of Nicholas Carr in his book, "The Shallows: what the internet is doing to our brains" which I read yesterday afternoon. He makes some very powerful points and has offered much food for thought. But culturally we seem to be in junk food mode, preferring to grab hyperlink snacks and bolt them down rather than savor a several course meal and reflect over coffee with friends.

I recommend the book, but I know you probably won't have time to read it. I know I didn't have time. I made the time. In a few blogs, I'd like to briefly touch on some of his key points: linear thinking, reading, interruptions, multi-tasking, and the blurring of man and machine.

First things first. Priorities.

C. S. Lewis said,  "You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first."

What does that have to do with anything? With the internet? 
Quite a bit.

In order to put first things first, we have to know what first things are. But we are in the process of losing the ability to know what first things are. Linear thinking is becoming a lost art. "The Net," Carr warns, "seizes our attention only to scatter it." p 118

In ways we don't understand, the circuits of our brains are being rerouted to accommodate the fast pace of information flow from the Net.  Torrents of information gush across our screens: fountains or  tsunamis? What, if anything, can we do about it?

I believe knowing our values is extremely important in dealing with this new technology. Then comes the "how to implement" question.

We are keeping these short because part of the struggle is we don't have "time" to spend in deep reading. And deep reading is what will help us find some of what we have lost.

Marcia, any thoughts?


Dear Karen, when you suggested that I read Carr's book I was dismayed. I have 3 books going now--one fiction, one somewhat inspirational, and one on spiritual disciplines. Yet there are many days in which I don't pick even one of them up.

I checked the website of my local library, and their one copy of the book had been checked out. Rather than reserve it, I checked Amazon and found that I could buy the book on Kindle for only about $8. So I did it.

It took me 15 seconds to buy, and the book was immediately available (through the Cloud) on both my MacBook and my iPhone.

And I giggled. The Internet may be destroying my brain, but I love it to pieces.

My older children were teenagers before the Internet was widely available. I read to them daily. One day I began to read Robinson Crusoe. They needed encouragement with some books. "Just listen. You'll get into it." They begged me to stop. Honestly, after a few chapters, my own droning was putting me to sleep. We never finished it. A classic, I'm sure, but we didn't have the patience to read it.

How much of our complaints about the Internet stem from the fact that, as time marches on, we want it to stand still?

My iPhone tells me that I've only read 16% of The Shallows. Maybe I'll skim a little more and comment on our next post.


1 comment:

  1. I understand completely. I only got half way through reading Moby Dick to Luke when he hoisted the white flag. But I loved it in high school and it's considered the Great American Novel. What do we do with this?