Social media is a mixed blessing. On one hand, I'm able to connect with and learn from creatives around the world. And connection, above all else, is what I crave during a pandemic quarantine. The crutch of virtual connectivity, of course, is I'm constantly scrolling on my phone or iPad all throughout my waking hours. Vox published How Technology Literally Changes Our Brains and I learned how my brain is being re-wired, for better or worse, from constant computer usage.
Nicholas Carr, whose 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, is at center of the article. Carr mentions that media has always re-rewired our brains, including literature:
I’ll start with the printing press. The arrival of the medium of printed text meant that we could sit down and read. [T]his was the big revolution because you can only read by yourself — it’s not a group activity. So when people started to read and literacy became more and more widespread, people removed themselves from the social world that they spent most of their time in.
Karr continues and mentions that, because of the growth of visual media, like the internet, our visual muscles strengthen. But -- and this is a big but -- visual muscles strengthen only from dominant workouts we put ourselves through: from seeing a computer or phone screen.
But we also lost something. One thing we lost is a lot of our visual acuity in reading nature and reading the world. If you look at older cultures that aren’t text-based, you see incredible abilities to, for instance, navigate by all sorts of natural signs.
I do my best to limit my screen usage, especially during evening times when I watch television with my partner. Partial attention is my own fault, so I've started a craft project of re-creating first edition book covers with glue and paper when I'd otherwise phone scroll into infinity in front of the TV. I'll post more about this project next week.
The article is an interesting read. Find it here: How Technology Literally Changes Our Brains