Nicholas G. Carr: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
Jaron Lanier about social media
When we go back in history people had an oral tradition. The remembered stuff! History was remembered, thoughts and beliefs were remembered and transferred to the next generations by word of mouth. They were experts in remembering stuff! And it was not only because they were chanting the same boring stuff over and over again. It was because their brains were shaped to remember. The had no other means to keep track of things and thoughts. No other technological devices to help them store information than their brains. But not so any longer. Today our brains are shaped and molded by another technological device: the internet. Our brains are gradually getting used not to know but to THINK that we know. We say: Well if I want to know it I can always find it on the internet”. It all there! All knowledge right at our fingertips, right? Not in our brains but somewhere “out there” in cyberspace”. But is that knowledge?
Now you can say that they were not necessarily more clever and brainy than us because they could remember stuff. Were they brighter and smarter? I don’t think so when it comes to technological inventions. But I think they were smarter in terms of thinking deeply about how life works and how to live this life and to see and figure out eternal principals that are applicable across all cultures through all human history. I think our time is the most difficult time in human history to overcome unhealthful habits because mass media is designed to keep us surfing around in a continuous flow of doing what we DONT want to do and DOING what we now are doing no good for us. But the smart thing is that all that doing what we don’t want to do has a built-in feature that works on the exact premices as addiction: Dopamine release.
THE INTERNET CREATES DOPAMINE JUNKIES
I believe that the internet is molding our brains into dopamine junkies.
and now the only move around on the surface of knowledge and rely on quick summaries instead of deep studies.
Human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer. The printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.
Technology structures thinking processes
Often we compare the implication of the Internet with the invention of the printing press in the 1500s. The printing was THE technical invention that allowed the general public to check for them self in books if it really was as the intellectual, political and religious elite had spoon-fed them. For hundreds of years, the mind and the thoughts had been shaped by the papacy through a carefully planned system. If someone criticized the system and exposed the flaws and errors, it was very difficult, or impossible to spread the information to the general public. The person who was opposed to the system was taken care of by censorship, torture, jail and if he still continued, then the stake. But the printing press changed all that. Now the power elite had no chance to stop the spreading of information that criticized the system and exposed its manipulation.
Thanks to the printing press books could now for the first time in history be spread to everybody. And that literally changed the human mind. Reading books shaped the human mind to be able to concentrate on longer streams of thought and trained to analyze statements and arguments.
But the internet shape our minds in a totally different direction. Although we have no access to all kinds of information – also information that is critical to the powers – it does the opposite to our minds than the book. It makes us prone to surf away, jump around and never contemplate and understand anything on a deeper level.
Access to massive amounts of data doesn’t necessarily lead to insight or understanding.
Technology structures thinking processes.