The Internet May Be Changing Your Brain In Ways You've Never Imagined… Five years ago, journalist Nicholas Carr wrote in his book The Shallows: How The Internet Is Changing Our Brains about the way technology seemed to be eroding his ability to concentrate. "Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words," he wrote. "Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski." In the book, which became a New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Carr explored the many ways that technology might be affecting our brains. Carr became particularly concerned about how the Internet seemed to be impairing our ability to think deeply and to focus on one subject for extended periods. – Huffington Post
Dominant Social Theme: The Internet is a very dangerous place.
Free-Market Analysis: The book referred to in the above article excerpt became a Pulitzer Prize finalist, though we are not sure why. Every part of the thesis seems relatively un-provable, though it conjures up a nightmarish Internet that is changing our very personalities as we innocently tap on our keyboards.
Perhaps this is what attracted Pulitzer evaluators to it. After all, the Pulitzer is provided to mostly mainstream media journos and the 'Net has been responsible for decimating the mainstream media. By providing a warm welcome to the book and its thesis, Pulitzer Prize decision makers along with various literary critics were perhaps hoping to draw attention to what they consider the Internet's dark side.
In other words, the book's reception becomes part of a larger propaganda war being waged against the Internet and its impact by those who have been professionally affected by new communications technology and likely have suffered monetarily as a result.
Yes, there are certainly those who may hold a grudge against the 'Net – as silly as it sounds. People easily personify technology and grudges may be held against inanimate objects that represent larger socio-economic evolutions.
And so Nicholas Carr received a warm welcome and on the fifth anniversary of his book, sat down for an interview with the Huffington Post. Unsurprisingly, he soon unburdened himself of yet more dire warnings, claiming he was continually concerned with how the Internet's supple electronic coils were squeezing our old neurons.
In the book, I argued that what we created with computers and the Internet was a system of distraction. We got the great rewards of having basically unlimited information at our fingertips, but the cost of that was we created a system that kept us in a state of perpetual distraction and constant disruption. What psychologists and brain scientists tell us about interruptions is that they have a fairly profound effect on the way we think. It becomes much harder to sustain attention, to think about one thing for a long period of time, and to think deeply when new stimuli are pouring at you all day long.
I argue that the price we pay for being constantly inundated with information is a loss of our ability to be contemplative and to engage in the kind of deep thinking that requires you to concentrate on one thing. To me, all the things I worried about have become much worse now that we carry around this permanently connected device that we're constantly pawing at. Things are very different in a way that makes the things I worried about worse. Research has found that millennials are even more forgetful than seniors.
These are insanely vague statements. Do scientists really know that the Internet is making it harder for people to think? Is Carr really sure that Millennials are more forgetful than seniors? Who did this research for him?
Let's contrast Carr's interpretations of the Internet and its impacts with a recent "Notes From The Field" email from Simon Black, founding editor of SovereignMan.com. Admittedly, he makes no direct reference to the Internet's impact but much of Black's business is built around the flexible and economical nature of electronic communications.
Almost anyone in the alternative media benefits from the Internet and understands its transformative effects. In the article, Simon makes reference to a conversation with "John" and relates that John agreed with him about having international options – lifestyle insurance, in other words. Here's how he explains his reactions to John's comments:
I was stunned. It was almost the exact same way I typically describe second passports. Or really any other international solution that's part of a Plan B. It's all about having options. More options mean more freedom. And more freedom means more prosperity and more security. The fact that John understood the benefit immediately gave me a lot of hope that perhaps people really are starting to understand what's happening.
When I was on stage with Ron Paul last weekend in Dallas, I told our audience about a hilarious interview I saw on ESPN with a professional football player from the Seattle Seahawks. The interviewer basically asked him what he would do if he were king of the world for a day, and the football player said, "I would do away with property taxes!" The interviewer looked at him a bit perplexed, and then asked why-
"Think about it, you buy a home, but then you have to keep paying the government forever?!?! I mean, how do you ever really own something if you just have to keep paying the government. Even with alimony you don't have to pay forever."
There was a smattering of applause in the studio … I thought, wow, people are really starting to understand. It's embryonic, but it's happening.
Simon Black is talking about a kind of "hive mind" evolution regarding people's perception of their relationship with authority and what they need to do to protect themselves. But he might as well be talking directly about the Internet Reformation because that is how the enlightenment is being communicated.
Yes, we've been banging on this particular drum for a long time. Even when the Internet was not nearly so powerful as it has become, we thought we saw clearly what was going to happen. We dismissed the naysayers who believed that the Internet was either a DARPA plot or an easily terminated facility that would be deprived of long-term impacts.
We defended its change-making. We know from the history of humankind that "naked apes" inevitably take full advantage of communication technologies, over time. Communication is our main differentiator as a species and thus the Internet benefits from our instinctual attraction.
Black's points are well taken. Change is indeed coming – and we think we know why. The Internet itself has been the midwife of age-old verities regarding spirituality, lifestyles and wealth. People are rediscovering older competencies and beginning to appreciate their simple subtleties.
One may look at today's trends with dread, but the Internet and the change it is fostering provide a hopeful countervailing outcome. Get a free subscription to The Daily Bell Newswire and join our select international network of free-thinking investors who use this information to help make better informed and more profitable investment decisions. Click here now to see what some members of our network have to say – Join us!
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