Letter From the Editor 

"When we adapt to a new cultural phenomenon, including the use of a new medium, we end up with a different brain. ... That means our online habits continue to reverberate in the workings of our brain cells even when we're not at a computer. We're exercising the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading and thinking deeply."

The quote is from Nicholas Carr's book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. His thesis is that our transition to using the Internet instead of reading books and doing traditional long-form research is changing the way we think. We're losing our ability to concentrate on a singular task or idea for longer periods of time.

I think he's probably onto something ... Oh wait, I have to check this email. Be right back. Okay, it was just an offer for penis-enlargement pills. Nevermind. Don't need 'em. So anyway, back to the subject at hand: how the Internet is destroying concentration.

I spend my workdays on the Internet, and I know Carr has hit upon a very real problem. I've been writing columns for publications for more than 25 years. It used to take me much longer, because if I needed to cite a quote or look up the population of Cleveland or figure out how to spell "callipygous," I'd have to turn to the big shelf of reference books I kept in my office. I had Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Roget's Thesaurus, Webster's New Abridged Dictionary, a world atlas, and a bunch more that I can't remember now, because I put them all in a box a couple years ago. Wait, let me google "reference books." Be right back ... Oh yeah, I also had Robert's Rules of Order, Who's Who in America, and a lot more I won't bore you with.

Now, of course, all the reference material I could ever want or need is a keystroke away. So there's a flip-side to Carr's thesis: Back in the day, it would take me several hours to craft a 500-word column, and much of that time was dedicated to searching through books. Now, with research a click away, I can finish my column in ... Wow, just got a Tweet that the Grizzlies' Darrell Arthur is out for the season! Crap. That's going to mess up this week's cover story. Oh wait, no, here's a text from Chris Herrington. He's already on it, revising as I write this. Pshew. Cool.

Wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. If you're on my email list, look for my e-card.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

Hungry Memphis

Sneak Peek at Ronnie Grisanti's

Hungry Memphis

Launch Process Expands with Penny Lounge

Intermission Impossible

The Typographer's Dream is Dreamy Comedy at TheatreSouth

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Don Lifted Premieres Contour Visual Album

Hungry Memphis

Open Flame Opens in Highland Neighborhood

News Blog

UPDATE: Six Arrested at Police Protest Released

Politics Beat Blog

County Commission in Busy Reorganization Session

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation