So don’t click the link.

3 08 2010

I think I’ll close my discussion of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows with a post that gets to the heart of why I found so much of the book annoying. In short, it denies any notion of free will. For example, here’s Carr on p. 141:

“Given our brain’s plasticity, we know that our online habits continue to reverberate in the workings of our synapses when we’re not online. We can assume that the neural circuits devoted to scanning, skimming, and multitasking are expanding and strengthening while those used for reading and thinking deeply, with sustained concentration, are weakening or eroding.”

So why don’t we just spend more time reading while concentrating and thinking deeply? I do it all the time and skim the net. The two things are not mutually exclusive.

Not in Carr’s world. Everyone is a passive victim (p. 103):

“Christine Rosen, a fellow at the ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, recently wrote about her experience using a Kindle to read the Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby…’Although mildly disorienting at first, I quickly adjusted to the Kindle’s screen and mastered the scroll and page-turn buttons. Nevertheless, my eyes were restless and jumped around as they do when I try to read for a sustained time on the computer. Distractions abounded. I looked up Dickens on Wikipedia, then jumped straight down the Internet rabbit hole following a link about a Dickens short story, ‘Mugby Junction.’ Twenty minutes later I still hadn’t returne dto my reading of Nickleby on the Kindle.'”

So don’t click the link. Nobody’s forcing you.

Want to be a better reader? Read more. Read deeper. If that means keep away from the Kindle, then you should keep away from the Kindle.

The Internet only warps your mind if you let it.


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