Much of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows reads like a transcript of the ongoing dialogue I have with myself about the pluses and minuses of my Web use. Or rather, it’s more like the ongoing lecture of a nagging parent toward a recalcitrant teenager.
Since the mid-1990s when I was a college freshman, I have enjoyed almost unfettered daily access to the Internet. This access has become even easier with the advent of the smartphone (and how endearingly quaint that term will surely seem in another few years). Digital ubiquity and dependency characterize my waking existence and, thanks to my new electronic sleep monitor, even my nocturnal one. In fact, I couldn’t help but check my e-mail and favorite sites several times while doing the reading.
For all the wondrous things the Internet has enabled me to do, it has also been an impediment to my attempt to be healthy and productive. My Internet usage has affected my sleep, study and exercise patterns, and even the way I relate to others. It all comes down to habit, the outward manifestation of neuroplasticity. I have tried, and mostly failed, to reform my habits to better serve myself, from adopting B.J. Fogg’s methods, to reading this book, to purchasing a “wearable tech” device (one step closer to the merging of technology and biology that some say is in our future). And so I ask you: how has the Web helped or hurt your efforts to live the life you want to live?