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!