The pages are slipping through my fingers as I continue to read, page-by-page The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. I appreciate looking back and being able to physically see the amount of pages that I’ve read in a given amount of time. In twenty minutes, in two hours, in two days, I can actually see how much I’ve accomplished. However, many people would disagree with my opinion on books because of the growing popularity of the Internet. My own view is that because the Internet is becoming the main source of reading over books, many of my strategies for reading the World Wide Web have changed. Despite opinions to the contrary, these strategies have been extremely damaging to the human mind making it harder for people to focus on more difficult texts such as books.
Today when reading an article online, I am more likely to skim the article, point out a few words and sentences that are exciting and interesting and move on. As Philip Davis, a doctoral student at Cornell points out: “I skim. I scroll. I have very little patience for long, drawn-out, nuanced arguments”. Basically, Davis is saying that he doesn’t have the patience to read books. What is the point of reading a complex article when it is easy to find a short summary of the same article in a matter of seconds? But even though the Internet provides an easy way of finding material, I believe that my knowledge is inhibited. Skimming is becoming our central mode of reading, an end to itself instead of further analysis and reading.
The multimedia of the net such as hyperlinks, sometimes do more harm than good. This is because many different kinds of information are all condensed into one single screen, making it harder to concentrate and read the web page to it’s full potential. We read a few sentences, see a hyperlink connected to another page, and immediately go to that page and usually never return to the first article.
Connecting to the larger issue, I feel like the Internet is creating informality and making us less likely to develop more personal relationships with others. One trend that I feel has arisen out of the development of the Internet is “personal e-mails or text messages.” Younger generations rarely write letters to people and take the time to actually send someone kind words because of the fact that the Internet allows a message to be sent in seconds. In my opinion there is no way that e-mails or text messages should substitute a genuine thank you. I write thank you notes to family and friends for their generous gifts after my birthday and Christmas. I know that I personally enjoy getting a piece of mail, even if it is just a few sentences from a friend or family member thanking me for something that I did or gave to them. The idea of the physicality of a book being in your hands applies to the idea of a physical thank you note. Text messages and emails disappear and get deleted after a certain amount of time, but a thank you note is yours forever.
Yes, there are numerous benefits to using the World Wide Web. We can send messages, and receive a message right away with barely any time in between. Also, it allows you to multitask and focus on more than one thing at once—you can search for an article or picture on Google while at the same time, update your Twitter and Facebook page. But with the endless amount of positives, there are also numerous negatives that go along with Internet use. Because of the fact that the Internet is becoming the main source of reading over texts, tactics for reading articles online have also changed which is both beneficial and damaging. I feel as though people should try to step away from the World Wide Web for a period of time each day. Yes it is necessary for some to be on it constantly due to their jobs, but maybe at the end of the day, turn off your computer/cell phone and focus on genuine, face-to-face relationships. The question is where should we go from here?