or so says some brain expert:
Although the worldwide web has been around for just 20 years, it is hard to imagine life without it. It has given us instant access to vast amounts of information, and we’re able to stay in touch with friends and colleagues more or less continuously.
But our dependence on the internet has a dark side. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.
. . .
People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read words printed on pages. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, updates and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are often less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.
The common thread in these disabilities is the division of attention. The richness of our thoughts, our memories and even our personalities hinges on our ability to focus the mind and sustain concentration. Only when we pay close attention to a new piece of information are we able to associate it ”meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory”, writes the Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. Such associations are essential to mastering complex concepts and thinking critically.
When we’re constantly distracted and interrupted, as we tend to be when looking at the screens of our computers and mobile phones, our brains can’t forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give distinctiveness and depth to our thinking. Our thoughts become disjointed, our memories weak. The Roman philosopher Seneca may have put it best 2000 years ago: ”To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”
It’s true; I can feel it. I probably view over 500 web pages a day, and check around 150 regularly (every morning I have a free hour or so). And it is making me dumber. I need not know anything any more, since I can just look it up. It’s sad. It’ll be interesting to see how it effects the generations that follow, who have personal computers at their disposal from birth…