Nicholas Carr, in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, strongly discusses the weakening of humans through a learned reliance on technology.
Carr (2011) states, “People who write on a computer are often at a loss when they have to write by hand” (p. 209). He makes the point that when people are used to typing, over time, they lose some ability to write in cursive. Taking it a step further, students in Finland are no longer required to learn cursive in school.
Similarly, Carr (2011) also noted that we have “come to depend on computerized GPS devices to shepherd us around” (p. 212). I find it is true when I am going some place unfamiliar or outside of my routine routes that I instinctively grab for my phone GPS. Perhaps this is because I travel a lot these days. Or, perhaps the common person is going places that were not options prior to navigation systems.
Yet, even Carr’s own digression into “the writing of this book” (p. 198) shows how the mediated mind’s capability to concentrate is diminishing. Personally, I can stay relatively focused in the process of writing this blog post, but I have difficulty sitting down to write a research paper. Are computers shortening our attention spans?
Whatever the case, it is clear that we are entering a different era, where we value technology as an extension of ourselves. Is this a weakness, as Carr states? Or, is it just the grand beginning of a new era?