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The Internet Is Changing Our Brains

In his book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr calls the Internet "a technology of forgetfulness" and describes how, thanks to the plasticity of our neural pathways, our brains are literally, being rewired by digital distraction:

The more we use the Web, the more we train our brain to be dis­tracted—to process information very quickly and very efficiently but without sustained attention. That helps explain why many of us find it hard to concentrate even when we're away from our comput­ers. Our brains become adept at forgetting, inept at remembering.

We are reading a ton on our devices and screens—we ac­tually read a novel's worth of words every day. (But) it is not the sort of continuous, sustained, concentrated reading conducive to reflective thinking. Maryanne Wolf argues: “There is neither the time nor the impetus for the nurturing of a quiet eye, much less the memory of its harvests.”

Our rapid-fire toggling between spectacles—an episode of a Hulu show here, a Spotify album there, and scanning a friend's blog post—works against wisdom in the moment, by eliminating any time for reflection or synthesis before the next thing beckons. But it also works against wisdom in the long term, as brain research is showing. Our overstimulated brains are becoming weaker, less critical, and more gullible at a time in history when we need them to be sharper than ever.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Wisdom is not about getting to answers as fast as possible. It's more often about the journey, the bigger picture, the questions and complications along the way. There is great value in a slower intake of information with time for meditation and retention.

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