A friend of mine gave me The Shallows for my birthday. It had been on my wish list for a long time, and she gave such a hearty recommendation of it that I read it immediately. I’m counting it for my reading challenge category of “a book about science.”
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr looks at the changes caused in our brains and culture by our increasing use of the Internet. This thoroughly researched and engaging book discusses the history of media and technology, and the science behind brain plasticity and memory, all to show what we are forfeiting by our continuous connectivity. Carr argues, supported by scientific and experimental data, that as our brains adapt to the multitasking culture of distraction on the Internet, we lose our ability for deep thought – being able to focus on one thing for a long amount of time. Instead, the Internet retrains our brains to read and think in short snippets, scanning and skimming in order to quickly and efficiently process information. While Carr acknowledges the benefits of having access to such limitless knowledge, he urges his readers to consider the costs of its use. The Shallows is fascinating and frightening, and makes me think much more about how much I pick up my phone or open my computer.