Posted by: eldrickbone | November 6, 2014

The Shallows is unbearable to read and Nicholas Carr knows it

Trying to read through the six chapters required in this week’s reading for our course had me fidgety, frustrated and upset. I kept trying to talk myself into continuing forward and not sacrificing a week of obligatory blogging for the term. I just wished I could press Ctrl+F on a keyboard and find the point he was trying to make by describing the history of brain and nervous system tests on monkeys or letting me know how old he was when he saw Star Wars: A New Hope in theaters for the first time. I found myself saying “get to the point” several times at 3 am., surely passing my annoyance on to a housemate or neighbor.

Living in this digital-driven era (especially as millennials), we absorb media ad nauseam, which means a constant state of learning, but we have, seemingly, the freedom to find exactly what information we want and then stop or move on to the next thing, creating short attention span and tolerance for irrelevance.

An article on described a Pew Internet Study in the U.S. that cited “attention span and in depth analysis is being diminished by instant access to computers and online platforms.” A point that Carr makes throughout his book in a long, drawn out manner. Rationally speaking, he has an easy-to-read style of writing that takes forever to get to the point. Just like me!

Attention Span


  1. Perhaps Carr wasn’t trying to make a “point” in these six chapters? Maybe his hope for this book was for “readers to compare their thoughts and experiences…with the thoughts and experiences of others” (72).

    I’m actually enjoying this book and find myself “deep reading”—something I haven’t truly devoted time to in years. While I read Carr’s words describing reading as a “meditative act” because “readers disengaged their attention from the outward flow of passing stimuli” (65), I was aboard the MAX—engrossed in “The Shallows”—completely unaware of how many stops we’d made and how many I had left to go.

    It’s pretty obvious we’re not reading books as much as we used to; just take a look around—almost everyone is constantly immersed in screens. An NPR article from 2007 ( reported, “On average, Americans spend two hours a day watching television and seven minutes reading.” Carr mentioned young adults between the ages of 25 and 34, “the most avid Net users,” read printed works for just 49 minutes per week in 2008 (87). Think back to our Media Journals—how many of us actually recorded leisure reading?

    While we may be reading more, we are reading books less. The positive or negative effects this change will have on society is completely open for interpretation—at least that’s one point I’ve taken away from the text (so far).

    How do you feel about the decline of print readership?

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