Last week I was enjoying an early morning walk, listening to the birds make their music, and then decided I wanted to run a little bit, so switched over to my iPhone playlist for some upbeat tunes.
Landed on Sail (aka Blame it on my ADD) by AwolNation. Not really upbeat…but made me think about how everyone talks about having ADD these days. (And doesn’t it seem like everyone has some form of ADD?)
I have found that it has become increasingly rare to have a conversation in which I feel like the other person is really listening. Have you found this in your daily interactions? And then I thought about my own attention skills… and it dawned on me that I am a little ADD too. It has definitely become harder for me to focus in on one thing — like a conversation, book, or project. I feel distracted; and I don’t like feeling distracted.
Which leads me to a book I read (yes, finished it!) called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. The premise of this book is that the use of the internet is actually changing our brains, strengthening new neural pathways and weakening old ones. When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes a different type of reading (scanning) and hurried and distracted thinking as we click on more and more hyperlinks. “The Net seizes our attention only to scatter it.” (1)
As we spend more time scanning web pages, exchanging bite-sized text messages, and clicking links, we spend less time reading books, composing sentences and paragraphs, and devoting time to quiet reflection. We strengthen our brain’s abiltity to gather and send information quickly, but perhaps at the price of deep reading, reflection and contemplation, and sustained concentration.
The internet is not going anywhere and I am certainly not giving it up! But I also want to keep my neural circuits that promote concentration, reflection, and going deep strong. So I am going to keep reading old fashioned books without hyperlinks (even if that means more weight when I travel!) and continue to take one half to one day off a week from using digital technology, unless I need it to get somewhere!
Thanks to Sail by AwolNation for inspiring this blog.
1. Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print.