The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
Flower Power Botanicals in Fort Collins Celebrates ‘420’ all April with these amazing Deals & Promotions:
April 15, 2024

In Colorado, April is always the month to celebrate, especially if you are a medical and recreational marijuana dispensary in Fort Collins. On...

Nicholas Carr tells Fort Collins the Internet is ruining their brains

Nicholas Carr speaking at the VINT Symposium h...
Nicholas Carr speaking at the VINT Symposium held in Utrecht, Holland on June 17, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wake up, roll over, check your text messages.

Get out of bed, walk over to the computer and check your Facebook feed and email.

Ad

Repeat hundreds of times throughout the day.

This type of behavior, according to Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Carr, has rapidly become commonplace. The result, he believes, of our minds being shaped by the steady stream of information we’re constantly immersed in as our lives are increasingly spent online.

Speaking to a crowd of about 450 people at the Hilton Wednesday evening, Carr talked about his realization years ago that he was no longer able to have periods of sustained concentration and seemed to have lost the ability to focus on one task for extended periods of time.

“At first I thought it was middle-aged mind rot,” Carr joked. “Then the more I thought about it the more I realized my brain really wanted to behave the way it behaves when I’m online.”

This set him off into two lines of research, which was the basis of his book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.” The first line of research looked at how the Internet is rewiring our brains on a neurological level. The other looked at how historical events and technologies, such as the mechanical clock and the industrial revolution, changed human thought.

Unlike other forms of technology, Carr said, the Internet and digital media is something we carry with us constantly. As we flit from webpage to webpage and constantly check our email, the ability to shift out of that mode of thinking when we’re offline is diminished.

“It’s such a powerful kind of distraction — technology and interruption technology — that it becomes a problem when you can’t really experience anything,” Carr said.

This is compounded by the fact that many Internet companies have financial incentives to get us to click on as many links as possible every time we’re online.

The end result, Carr believes, is that while we gain benefits like being able to collaborate and rapidly gather information, we’re also losing deep creativity, the ability to concentrate for long periods of time and solitary, contemplative modes of thinking.

Ad

People who attended Carr’s lecture said they could relate to having lost the ability to concentrate and stay focused for long periods of time.

Sophomore physics major Curtis Bear said he read online articles Carr had written, which is why he decided to attend the lecture.

“What he had to say was really interesting. I can definitely relate to everything,” Bear said. “I am always whipping out my phone in class to see if I got a text.”

Fort Collins resident and software developer Wade Safferfield said he sees a deep irony in his job.

“I spend all day coding computers, which takes an immense amount of focus,” Safferfield said. “It’s ironic that people in jobs that require so much concentration are ruining everybody else’s concentration. It does put a new spin on ‘Revenge of the Nerds.’”

View Comments (9)
More to Discover

Comments (9)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *