“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