…Making us Stoopid? That was the title on the cover of The Atlantic Journal, which caught my attention while I was walking out of the library. It made me actually sit down and read the whole thing. You can read the article online, if you’re interested. I enjoyed reading it, because the author discusses how we are collectively loosing our abilities for deep reading.
Most interesting was how he presents the idea that our neural circuitry is being remapped due to the way we click rapidly through the Internet.
Reading, explains Wolf, is not an instinctive skill for human beings. It’s not etched into our genes the way speech is. We have to teach our minds how to translate the symbolic characters we see into the language we understand. And the media or other technologies we use in learning and practicing the craft of reading play an important part in shaping the neural circuits inside our brains. Experiments demonstrate that readers of ideograms, such as the Chinese, develop a mental circuitry for reading that is very different from the circuitry found in those of us whose written language employs an alphabet. The variations extend across many regions of the brain, including those that govern such essential cognitive functions as memory and the interpretation of visual and auditory stimuli. We can expect as well that the circuits woven by our use of the Net will be different from those woven by our reading of books and other printed works.
I found this curious, and a bit disturbing. The convenience of rapid research is so attractive, the enormous volume of information (and disinformation) that is available is so impressive, but are we destroying our minds? Or are we merely rebuilding our minds to match the hectic world where information is flying at us from every direction? The thing that bothers me the most is that I have a difficult time these days in focusing on hobbies that I still love. I find myself missing doing the things that take intense concentration, but when I do tackle those things, my brain is really not all that into it. Is it time to pull the plug? I really am beginning to wonder.