Friday, May 10, 2013

Natural Evolution of Our Brains?

I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone when I lament the time warp that occurs when I get sucked into Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, and random internet cruising. I go on to “just check something, real quick” and suddenly over an hour has passed. It definitely has an effect on my real life- how much I get accomplished, how much I pay attention to my children- and I try to give myself boundaries to help regulate it.

It turns out that my time management might not be the only thing that is affected by the use of the interwebs but my brain itself. For my last book club, we read The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Mr. Carr believes that the internet is fundamentally rewiring the way our minds work. Apparently, over the course of the evolution of cave painting to the Gutenberg press, we’ve evolved from a state of distractedness to one of having the ability to sustain prolonged periods of concentrated thinking. Until now. The omnipresence of connected media is returning us to that previous more distracted state where we find it difficult to focus on, say, reading a book for long periods of time but find multitasking easier. 

As someone who is not adept at handling multiple sensory inputs at a time, the idea of my brain adapting to receive them better sounds pretty attractive. Unfortunately, the downside of improved multitasking seems to be decreased creativity.

So what’s a pretty girl to do? Attempts to shun the internet completely haven’t proven to be super effective so far -- I just end up getting sucked back in -- so it seems, as a book club friend put it, that the answer must be moderation. Facebook and the blogosphere will stay but with limits and alongside more challenging reading and my big book of New York Times crossword puzzles. I’m not sure this is enough to stave off the atrophy of important parts of my brain but I’m going to hope for the best!

Happy Weekend, Friends! 

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