I love the Internet. Google, Yelp, Uber, Craigslist, Airbnb, Amazon Prime . . . life is so much easier. We can learn anything, make informed choices, generate an income, and stick it to the man like never before. How did we live without it?
I’m also worried about the Internet. More and more I’m noticing my concentration drift while reading. I get antsy. I feel an urge to check my email at inappropriate times. And like a phantom limb, I sense a physical connection to my phone on the rare occasions we’re apart–reaching for it again and again. Longing for it.
Something is not quite right. Do you feel this?
Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, explores the Internet’s intellectual consequences while pointing to substantial evidence that it’s changing our brains. We’re becoming scanners and skimmers–on a slippery slope to losing our capacity for deep concentration and reflection.
“The computer screen bulldozes our doubts with its bounties and conveniences. It is so much our servant that it would seem churlish to notice that it is also our master.” – Nicholas Carr
Time is finite. If we are going to accomplish our goals we need to set boundaries for this internet god/monster. Otherwise we'll waste our days chasing shiny objects–exciting but essentially pointless in terms of long-term life fulfillment.
The New York Times recently reported that the average American spends 50 minutes a day on Facebook. With the exception of television that is more than any other leisure activity. Shocking when you compare it to:
- Reading (19 minutes)
- Exercise (17 minutes)
- Social events (four minutes)
In his latest book, Deep Work, Cal Newport argues that, while doing intellectually demanding work is the way to true fulfillment, it is a valuable skill that is becoming increasingly rare. Newport makes a good case for becoming mighty conscious of the distractions that don’t serve us so we can design more meaningful lives.
We must resist shiny objects and carve out the time and space needed for projects that matter!
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