The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Have you ever wondered as technology continues to advance and we continue to use this technology, what effects this might have on us?

It is not something that most people think about every day as most of us only see the benefits that new technology brings. Sure the challenge to stay in the “real” world is evident, as social media has become more and more prevalent, but what about more long-term effects that all of this technology can have.

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist, answers this question as it relates to possibly one of the most impactful advancement in information technology, the internet.

The infographic below illustrates Carr’s two central ideas about how the internet is changing the way we think.























Whether it was books, clocks, or maps, these forms of information technology have always influenced the way humans thought, and the internet is simply the newest tool at our disposal.

Carr’s First Point 

Carr’s first point is that the human brain is always developing.

He refers to experts in neuroscience to prove that the brain continues to change in response to its environment. Depending on the stimulus, the neural pathways in our brains are rerouted in response.

Once Carr establishes that our brains are susceptible to change, he explains how the internet is forcing us to think in a non-linear fashion, as opposed to the traditional linear way of thinking that books made us think in.

The Effects of the Internet

This non-linear way of thinking means that we are now more accustomed to scanning for pertinent information as well as receiving information with minimal effort. So even when we are done using the internet, the effects of the internet do not leave use. Our brains still want to process information in this non-linear way.

The benefits of using the internet and thinking non-linearly are that we can process more information faster and more efficiently than ever.

The question now becomes, as we continue to use the internet, will these benefits continue to outweigh the potential downsides.

Check out The Shallows to find out if the internet is changing the way we think for better or worse!

5 thoughts on “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

  1. The Shallows sounds like a very interesting book that I will have to check out.
    I know I am always thinking about the damaging effects of technology. Something that really interested me within this article was the point about how it is shrinking our brain capacity. If I don’t know something, I automatically just google it. It’s terrifying how something can be both so helpful and so harmful.

  2. I thought the point Carr made on how the internet is causing us to think non-linear was really interesting. I’ve never thought about it in that way, but it’s very true. We can get our hands on information in an instant, and we don’t give that a second thought. It’s great that we can process this data so efficiently, and I am also curious to see if the benefits will outweigh any of the negatives.

  3. I thought Carr made an interesting point, but when it all comes down to it I feel as if it is more damaging to us than we know. I feel as if as a society we would be able to benefit more from challenges than easy tasks.

  4. It’s crazy to think that the Internet, something we all thing so fondly of and use daily, could be doing us damage. I feel like many of us know but simply choose to ignore it. I’m definitely going to check this book out for further investigation. However, I will say I think in the long run, the benefits will outweigh the negatives. There is no accurate prediction obviously, but I’m hopeful that despite negative effect, the human race as a whole will continue to use the Internet to further our advancement.

  5. I am in a Psychology of Aging class right now and yesterday we were on the topic of “The Future of Aging” and how our cohort will age differently than generations before ours because of technology. Having smartphones, we don’t have to remember peoples numbers anymore and we can google things if we don’t know the answer and this could have an impact on our memory. Our grandparents had to remember numbers or write them down, but I know I can’t tell you my best friends cell number without having to go look in my phone. Also, having the internet on our phones makes looking up facts quicker and easier without having to read a book. Social media is a huge influence on our generation and this is another topic we talked about that is different from how other generations aged. We put almost everything on social media nowadays such as, our relationships, personalities, and we can know something about someone without ever meeting them and that is crazy! We can keep up with people who we don’t see anymore and they might live on the other side of the world and this was not a thing when our grandparents were our age. The fact that so much as changed and will continue to change is awesome, but how is it going to influence how generations after us age?

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