I was recently at a memorial mass for my granny who is dead. As usually happens at these family events, the people in the house were divided up into groups based on their age and then shuffled into rooms where they remained for the rest of the night. There was the old room, the young room and the youngish room. I was in the youngish room with a group of cousins I’d grown up with. About an hour or two into the socialising I noticed something; The old room were having way more fun. They were conversing easily and naturally with a constant stream of conversation coming from their delegated side of the house. The younger rooms were struggling.
I put this struggle down to the younger generation’s relationship with the internet. We’ve become extremely dependent upon it. This is especially apparent with YouTube videos because they allow you to show your sense of humour in a vicarious and languid way. We show these short videos with the sort of pride that suggests that we’ve made the videos ourselves and are rewarded for being the first to come across them.
Admittedly these memes and internet clips do add to our social experiences, they allow us to display our personalities and to relate to each other on the basis of shared sense of humour and taste. But my point is ; what happens when you take the laptop or smart phone out of the equation? Are we left with a gaping silence which we’ve become increasingly dependent upon the internet to fill?
Una Mullally, journalist for the Irish Times newspaper has written this great article detailing her battle with her own reliance upon the internet. In it she mentions a book called ‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr.
Carr states that the way our brains operate, retain and seek information is changing due to increased use of the internet. It’s said that our constant switching and flicking from one web page to the next has lowered our attention span. I for one will rarely finish an entire article, I’ll gather the amount of information that I feel I will need to carry a brief conversation but never enough information to be an expert. We now have a new generation who know a little about a lot rather than in depth knowledge about something in particular as this article also details. To prove my point I only read about a third of this article before I felt I had enough and then threw it in here, sorry.
Maybe this is just the way the human race is meant to evolve. A few hundred years ago they probably resented books for distracting people from learning the essentials like working a loom or cutting turf or whatever they got up to. With global warming, economic crisis, over-consumption and over-population maybe our dependence on the internet is just another thing in the long list of things that people panic about and then do nothing to change so maybe we should just go with it and stop terrifying ourselves. The internet is great. However I think if you follow the basic rule that an iphone gets placed into your pocket and remains there unless you get a message of call, then conversation will be less disjointed. A weakening attention span which is then pulled in various directions= crap conversation.
If however you want to learn more about what the internet is doing to our brain but find that your attention span has been too bollocksed by the internet itself to read the book, then have a look at this video of Nicholas Carr instead:
I will probably not watch this because it’s 49 minutes long.