“Why we Type”

“I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory.” (Is Google Making Us Stupid?)

Carr addresses that there is a mental shift in not just how we just approach information, but what we expect from it. Information is supposed to be easy, simple, and above all: fast! But sometimes the information comes at us so fast, that we’re stuck in a mentality that to the point where we can’t absorb fast enough to know what we even want in the first place. Like an angry mob fighting for a cause, it kind of goes something like this:

Carr’s article points toward the growing awareness that our brains are shifting gears towards a mentality known as hyperactive attention span (not quoted from the article itself, Gladstone however talks more about this). It is believed that we can only hold on to reading for a short period of time before we loose focus, or simply get bored with the information. Carr admits this himself that his ability to read for long periods of time is diminishing. “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

So, I wanted to put this to the test. Do the media platforms we use and how frequently we use them really impact how much literacy we can handle? I have to admit, I was already biased at first. I believed that it did from the get-go. I wasn’t afraid to admit that my focus has diminished in terms of traditional modes of taking in communication. For our class assignment, we had to write two “thick tweets”, which is a textually dense tweet on Twitter.

Of course, it was much harder than I imagined, but not in the way you’d expect. It wasn’t because I just couldn’t devise up enough to fill up a “thick tweet”, but that the total amount of characters were just not enough for me! I struggled trying to cram all of the characters in that tiny 140-character tweet box. I then thought to myself, “Well, maybe my environment has something to do with that”. It got me thinking that we have to find the balance between the two so-called realms: real life and virtual reality. Yes, in our digital age, it is hard to distinguish between the two. But I forgot to consider that they are, in fact, two separate realms entirely with their own set of features and applications. In my college environment, I’m forced to write longer and more extensive papers (well over 140 characters). Ergo, I am more attuned to reading and writing more than the average person. The only way to be for certain, is when I leave college. Will my mode, my mentality and style of writing change significantly? Will it take away or add to my benefit?


1) Do you think our physical environment affects how we see and use media?

2) Is simplifying and compacting our information better, because it matches with how we use and take in information? Or is it for the worse? Should we hold on to the traditional hard copy of a literature, or simply let it go?

Written by: Alexander Lakin



  1. I also feel that my attention span is getting shorter. I find that the less time I spend on the computer or looking at my phone, the easier it is for me to focus. I think that in some cases it’s fine that we are using Twitter and shorter messages to communicate. But I also feel that maybe we need to emphasize the importance of hard copies of books. It seems as though the interest in reading a complex story or article has fallen to the wayside and it may be harming our ability to process detailed information.

  2. I completely agree with the idea that our physical environment affects how we utilize media. I know for a fact that it is not at all possible for me to find the motivation to focus on homework of any kind when I am in my apartment. The opportunities to procrastinate with sites like Netflix and Twitter are too tempting. However, put me in the library and completing assignments becomes a lot easier. Also, in regard to the second question, I found out the other day that Verizon Communications has decided to provide the Los Angeles Unified School District with tablets to replace the hard copies of students’ books. This is somewhat bothersome in my opinion because it feels like it is only a matter of time before the traditional hard copy is no longer an option. I sincerely hope that is not the case because I do feel as though reading from a book, rather than reading a screen, is more rewarding. Ultimately, I think that this method of simplification only creates opportunities for distraction.

    1. I won’t go so far as to say we’re closing in on “the singularity”. But our relationship between media and ourselves is becoming so intimate, that the dividing line is getting fuzzier and fuzzier. I guess the real question is, is that a bad thing? Will we loose our humanity this way?

  3. I think there is a balance that can be found between new and compact forms of information and old ones like literature. It’s hard for me to say if Twitter has made my attention span shorter, because I don’t use it much. I know I certainly get distracted reading a science textbook, but I can still lose myself in a really good novel. I don’t think literature and writing has to go away because of twitter. I think they can exist as seperate entities with different purposes.

  4. I do think that our attention span has diminished due to the small platform we are given and exposed to constantly to relay messages. As millennial s we have become accustomed to reading quickly and moving on to something completely different forgetting almost instantly what we had just read. The environment also has a big impact on how we read and communicate. Being in the college environment, exposes us this quick read culture. Great post!

  5. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” So, maybe this shift towards digital reading has just taken us out of practice from reading in the traditional style. In the beginning of the semester I was really struggling in focusing on long articles I had to read online, but now with a month into the semester it seems to have gotten easier. Or in the opposite situation, over the summer I read a lot of novels and it progressively gets easier to read long-form text. I just think we need to balance our usage of both digital and paper reading, and neither will ever rule out the other; at least I hope not in our lifetime. Possibly in the far, far future, books will just be these strange ancient things that dead generations used.

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