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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Recommended Read: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains

Stop right there!

Before you turn your mind off to this post just because the book title sounds like a diatribe about the evil Internet, hear me out.

More importantly, I challenge you to read this book for yourself and evaluate its merits. It is NOT a railing against the evils of the Internet, but it does serve as a reminder that while there are many benefits to improvements to technology, the news isn't ALL good. We gain in some areas, we lose in others---and our brain, our very complex inner selves pay some price.

I'm not even going to try and give you a detailed review of the book. The premise, way over-simplified, is that while we reap many benefits from technology, in some ways we lose aspects of our own mental functioning. It presents us with a problem---do we create then control technology, or does technology control us?

The answer it seems, is both.

The very problem this book discusses is why it took me nearly 3 weeks to finish reading it. My brain, so routinely camped in the shallows by a plethora of Internet available information, has a hard time sitting down and reading a weighty book and giving it the deep thought it deserves. If this has ever happened to you, that alone should prompt you to read the book.

I think some books come across my path due to divine intervention. In recent years, and especially this one, I've been plagued by an anxiety I haven't been able to fully name. A feeling that I didn't think enough--a fear that as a society, we don't spend much time in deep thought.

This book helped me solidify those nagging, unreachable thoughts just a bit more. In fact, I would like to obtain my own copy of the book to re-read, mark and highlight text to dig deeper. I found it very interesting that I was mentally resistant to absorbing certain aspects of what this book had to say. Yet by the same token, I could feel it speaking to me about certain aspects of my intellectual life that had been bugging me.

Do I sound crazy? Perhaps I am. But reading this book gave more distinct voice to worries that have been rolling around in my head looking for a way out.

This book is not light reading. And if, like me, you are soooooo non-scientific minded, it will be harder (parts of it hurt my head). But well worth the effort. If for no other reason then to look at the ways in which we absorb information, and the far reaching impact it has on us and on society. And when you read it, come back and leave a comment to let me know what you it impacted you, or didn't. I'd like to know.

1 comment:

Pat Iacuzzi said...

Hi Brenda--

It's been awhile...but I agree and will pick up this book. I'm older so can compare the differences in my behavior between some of the "old-fashioned" things I do (i.e. reading)and our youth. Have observed kids standing right next to each other and texting, where they could just as easily have a conversation! It could be they're passing on "secrets"; but I also think they're hooked to the process. Thanks for touching on this subject! Pat