Nicholas Carr’s, The Shallows, claims that the Internet is a medium based on interruption and has lead to a change in the way people read and process information. In, This Is Your Brain Online, NPR’s All Things Considered, asks, if we’ve come to associate the acquisition of wisdom with deep reading and solitary concentration, what are we to make of Carr’s position that this is not found online?
As a lifelong solitary deep reader, I find Carr credible, with limitations. Often, online, I find myself in rather a frenzy to get to the bottom of a story, chasing links, desperately searching for, The Answer, or irrefutable proof. These cannot be found in isolation. The internet stands accused of having rendered us all shallow without a concomitant project of undoing the shallowness or even answering it. The problem is that you cannot answer shallowness with profundity. Most people, engaged in their own lives, have no interest in deep analysis of cultural events or political shenanigans. I see no path in which you can force people to delve deeply. We have always been in the Shallows, this is not new. What is new is being able to measure exactly how shallow and distracted we are.
Sadly, we are now all trying to win the spin game and get the message across. Slow contemplative thinking, much revered by Carr, is not everyone’s cup of tea. The future likely belongs to whoever best captures the fractured attention and rampant imagination of our electorate.