Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Carolyn Crane: lab rat or what?

Uh! Mr. Crane and I were discussing this review of "The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr this morning, admitting how we get little addictive bumps of happiness from emails. The review appears in the New Republic here.

Here, a paragraph - gah! This is me, checking my email, blog, twitter and more, like, every 30 minutes...

And so we devolve inexorably into “lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.” These sweet tidbits are rotting our mental teeth. This is so, Carr maintains, because “the Net delivers precisely the kind of sensory and cognitive stimuli—repetitive, intensive, interactive, addictive—that have been shown to result in strong and rapid alterations in brain circuits and functions...”
This books is sort of about how these constant interruptions promote shallow thought, and endanger deep, more complex thought.

I can totally feel the truth of this - I do a little hard work and it's as if, oh, so difficult! now I want candy. And like an addict I put up fences (No social media for FOUR HOURS). Sometimes it works, but sometimes I just crash through the fence. Or sometimes I have to check my email for client purposes, and it turns into other stuff. And it's all these tiny little hits of goodness that add up to nothing. I know the topic is nothing new. Still, not a ROTFL matter!

Sometimes when I see that I have an unbroken stretch of time to write, I'll say, no being online for this amount of time, which, as I noted above, works sometimes and sometimes not, and I call it 'going dark' but what is that? Maybe I should inspect that terminology.

Part of me hopes it's not all that dire, in the sense that maybe the threat to ourselves as thinking, reflective beings might make us more aware of ourselves as thinking and reflective beings. Isn't that a good thing? I sort of want to make that the good thing for myself.

Sort of like, when at the end of an action adventure movie, the hero or heroine treasure and value a nice quiet dinner in a way they hadn't before. In this analogy, the Internet is Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 1 and contemplative thought is the quiet dinner.

Of course, I'm offroading from the book now, which suggests our neural pathways are getting re-routed. And, I guess there is no quiet dinner at the end of T1.

Noooo! Oh, look how serious I'm being this morning!!! It's not like I want to quit the Internet and twitter and stuff. Just bad effects of it. Thoughts?


Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

How creepy! I was just thinking about this subject before I clicked over here.

What I wonder is, does reading a book counter act those effects? I would lean towards yes.

And therefore us book bloggers are slightly better off than the literary bereft twitter masses. ;)

Sweet Vernal Zephyr

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

I am totally an internet lab rat clicking on twitter to satisfy my addiction - sometimes I actually have to put my computer away so I do work and not play all the time..

KT Grant said...

This is me perfectly. I need tidbits and stimulation from various on-line sources every hour.

Carolyn Crane said...

SVZ: LOL. I hope reading counteracts it. I would think so, unless you're twittering while you read.

Heather: Right, me too.

KB: we're patheticcccccccc!

AngelGoneMad said...

You have an award waiting for you here.

Joanna Chambers said...

Yes, this is me too. And like an addict, my mind is now justifying, justifying.

orannia said...

Interesting...and scary. I always tell myself I'll get off at a certain time, and then I extend it...and extend it. Usually what drives me to log off is how early I have to get up the next morning :)

Lea said...

It is totally addicting and even when I tell myself I'm going to stay off line for a couple of days I find myself peeking.

And, since I got the iPhone - 10 x worse...

The thing is I spend so much time online I don't read as much which is really bad..

Food for thought CJ..

Chris said...

*twitch twitch twitch*

Christine said...

I saw that book on the new release shelf at my library the other day and thought that I should probably read it. That thought lasted about 10 seconds.

I confess that I have distanced myself from regular twitter use because it has a tendency to be a huge useless time suck. Don't get me wrong... twitter is totally fun. It's just way too easy to be on there all the time just BSing.

Renee said...

So totally me!

I struggle with this, working mostly from home. I already have enough rl distractions while trying to get work done. All the other "extras": twitter, blog hopping, surfing, email do make it harder. Having a dedicated laptop for my website work helps. I don't have "those" browser windows open/avail on it that lead to distraction.

However, on the eve of another SoCal Bloggers get together, I'm so aware of how some of these seemingly superficial activities can lead to SO much more. ;-)