Ok. So. I’ve been reading a book called, “The Shallows; What the Internet is Doing to our Brains.” It’s by Nicholas Carr. It was written around 2010. I haven’t gotten but a few chapters into it, but it already has me reeling a little bit. It SO PERFECTLY describes my sense of a lack of focus and patterns of change in my thinking that I’ve been noticing for the last couple years and more.
Here’s some of the Quotes that grab me:
**“Media work their magic, or their mischief, on the nervous system itself.” p3
In other words, there’s a reason we’re all soooo anxious all the time! We think it’s relaxing us, and it does hit the pleasure centers in our brain, but at the same time it’s also effecting our nerves negatively because our brains keep wanting the hit and that causes a sense of stress. That continual, unconscious, addictive reaching for the stimulus (of pleasure) is part of what keeps our nerves on edge.
**“The medium’s content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think or act.” p3
What we’re watching, or playing, or reading on our technologies doesn’t matter as much as how the technology itself is changing us. We could be watching/reading good things, needful things, helpful things, educational things, and not a bunch of worthless junk–but it’s still changing our brains.
**“I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or lengthy article. Now my concentration starts to drop off after a page or two.” p5
Um, yeah… this is def me.
**“Media aren’t just channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but also shape the process of thought and the Net seems to be chopping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.” p6
Again, I’ve certainly found this true for me. A word I find myself using often is “scattered”. My thoughts feel SO here, there, and everywhere, and I often just sit in a state of utter blah. Which is when I reach for my phone, facebook, or an app or game.
**“Whether I’m online or not my mind expects … to take in information the way the Net delivers it—at warp speeds.” pp6-7
Yes, again, this is part of the reason we’re all soooo stressed and anxious. At the same time that I’m feeling blah or bored, there’s also a low-lying sense of tension and strain underneath it.
I SEE ALL OF THIS! It’s why I get stressed and upset when the ‘puter is taking too long to load. It’s why I sometimes feel like hand-writing something just doesn’t keep up with my thoughts. It’s why I turn to text to talk cuz it’s faster and easier.
Even just the other day I was remembering how only 10 or so years ago I was still studying the Bible with…wait for it….. Books. Now I do it with Apps and the internet. I even used NOTEBOOKS to write my studies out back then (can you believe that??). And now that all seems too slow and clunky for my brain. Yet, at the very same time, it feels like my brain can’t focus and stick to any clear thoughts. I do, but it sometimes takes me awhile to get to that focused place, and one little distraction– a text or a notie can set me back hours, literally, and often keeps me from accomplishing much all day.
I still intend to finish the book, but based on the little I’ve already read, here’s some steps that I’ve determined to set in motion to help heal my brain and recuperate my focus:
~If I do get on the Internet, I set the timer for 10 min max, then get off (it takes real determination and a sense of discipline to do this; I don’t always have either, but it;s improving).
~Turning off predictive text, auto-correct, and making certain to use punctuation properly. (This slows me down instead of just my fingers flying in the general direction and letting the tech think for me and filling in what it thinks best).
~Not using talk to text. (I do still use this for writing articles at times, but I avoid it in communicating one on one via messaging. Again, slows me down).
~Leaving my phone in some central location in the house, if possible in another room. As if it were a landline. I turn it loud enough to know it’s getting a phone call or a text, but if I don’t get to it, I don’t get to it. Curbs the “I have to respond” now sensation.
~Turning off all app notification noises.
~Making certain to not over-stay online. (I have noticed a line in myself where I’ve been on too long and it effects my productivity in getting real time things accomplished. My mood plummets. It tanks my motivation. A sense of shame and guilt enter in, etc. and then my mind feels like a beached whale for the rest of the day).
~Not allowing “likes” and “hearts” and “comments” to validate my existence. Making a conscious effort to remind myself that in large part they don’t mean a whole lot in the real time scheme of life.
~Reading actual books. Committing to reading actual hard copy books. I used to love it. My life was filled with books. Gosh, when I was a kid, you couldn’t find me without a book. The Library was my favorite place in high school and college. I even read encyclopedias, for goodness sake!
When I sit back and take stock of it all, lots of things go through my mind at this point. Like: my work is on the internet. I write a blog, have a Facebook page and do Facebook for the Bartlesville Farmers Market. I have some other pages I keep up with too. I can’t just not be on the internet anymore. But being aware that it’s effecting my brain and focusing abilities in a negative way gives me the kick in the pants I need to start changing how I think about technology. Also the fact that “they” (the powers that be) are using it against us in very real ways these days gives me even more pause as to how to minimize being so dependent upon it.
And that’s the desire of my heart. To not be dependent upon it. To not be addicted. To not be controlled by anything other than my Lord Jesus. He loves me, and He’s a good King who has my best in mind, and who deserves first place in my heart. I want to give that to Him.