What the Internet is doing to our minds
Critical social analysts have long suggested that in the information societies in which we now live, mass media, advertising, technological savvy, and ideological postures have so shrunk our personal space in which our individual standing in the world is negotiated, that they have, in effect, subtly disempowered us. The critical faculty of a discerning mind, cultivated in quiet reflection time, is now increasingly being replaced by quick bits of often conflicting information and a general ‘hare-brained’ scattered and overactive mental activity. The result is that more than 500 million people in the wealthy developed nations suffer neurotic, stress-related, and somatoform illnesses, and 200 million more have mood disorders. Much as the ground-breaking discoveries of a technological age are creating a global village and calling us to new levels of global awareness, we are challenged to find a new and socially healthy balance of life, where virtual reality enriches, but does not shrink the space of our engagement with the immediate realities that surrounds us. As we learn how to surf the Internet, we still need to be able to be inspired by great ideas, rather than paralyzed into inaction by information overload; to think through life’s eternal questions, as we also survey daily world news.
Nicholas Carr’s new book, The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our minds, exposes the complexity of the dilemma we face by raising the question of what essential faculties for deeper and more sustained thought we might be in effect loosing as we spend more and more time enjoying the quick rewards of the internet. For those of you who are familiar with my work on critical consciousness and empowered ways of being in the world, you may see many connecting threads with Carr’s brilliant exploration. His book is yet another wake-up call, reminding us that calling into being a new mind, one that can truly encompass, comprehend, and participate intelligently and responsibly in life in the 21st century, requires far more complex thinking skills than can be developed by endless hours of surfing the Internet.
Originally published at http://www.elenamustakova.net.