The internet has changed my brain
Today I went into a bookstore for the first time in months. I buy most of my books online or, to be frank, just play on the internet instead of reading. I'm 40, so I've lived substanitial chunks of my life both with and without the internet.
I found it difficult to scan the shelves. I couldn't concentrate; my vision was always skipping ahead and I kept getting distracted. It's hard to explain, but I wanted to approach book shopping the way I do online browsing: clicking through quickly, skimming the surface, immediately targeting what I want.
I realized that this tendency has spread to reading generally. I'm so used to reading online-style text, short bits of information rife with hyperlinks that I dip into without missing a beat. I've become extremely nimble in navigating information but way less adept at absorbing and retaining it.
It scares me a little. I was an English major and worked in bookstore or libraries from my teens to mid-20s. I own hundreds of books and used to love reading. I started reading The Wind in the Willows, my favorite children's book, last night, and within ten mintutes I was back to surfing online.
I think I need to take a long break.
|by Anonymous||reply 37||07/03/2013|
It just means your eyes have changed. It's nothing to do with your brain.
|by Anonymous||reply 1||07/01/2013|
OP, I'm 39 and it's the same for me. I wonder sometimes what we used to do with our time before we had computers. Now we wouldn't travel anywhere without our beloved internet access (whether through phone, iPad, laptop, etc.).
I mean, we didn't even have answering machines when I was a kid. If someone wasn't home, it rang and rang and you had to call later. Now, everyone expects immediate replies to their calls and texts. And my attention span has vastly decreased. I was a big reader as a kid, but now I just read whatever holds my interest for 10 seconds online, until I move to the next thing that holds me for ten seconds... What is it like for the young'uns who grew up this way?
|by Anonymous||reply 2||07/01/2013|
OP, I feel the way you do.
What helped was getting back in the habit of reading novels and non-fiction -- and not on my Kindle (which I like). I started using my local library website like Amazon... ordering everything that occurred to me, or that sounded interesting, and then stopping there once a week to see what was on hold for me.
(One nice benefit: if it's a popular title, you can order it, forget about it, and then it might show up a few months later as a surprise.)
Now I shut down the computer an hour before bed, brush my teeth and climb into bed with a real book. I put on relaxing music and just read for pleasure. It didn't take long to retrain my brain.
What I seem to have lost is the other thing you're describing -- the pleasure of walking into a used book store and getting lost just browsing titles.
|by Anonymous||reply 3||07/01/2013|
[quote]I wonder sometimes what we used to do with our time before we had computers.
This! I'm late 30s so I lived a chunk of my adult life without the Internet and cell phones and honestly I really do have trouble remembering what the fuck I did without them! I think I watched A LOT more tv and read more. It's weird that trying to remember a time before the Internet and cell phones became commonplace is somewhat difficult. I have no idea how we lived without them.
|by Anonymous||reply 4||07/01/2013|
Same here OP. Not much more to add, but I really like your idea R3. Time to get a few real books.
I've already cut down mindless web surfing and checking Facebook to a couple times a week. Odd, I don't really miss it. The people who are my friends call and email, or we get together in person.
The novelty of being connected at all times is really wearing off.
|by Anonymous||reply 5||07/01/2013|
The internet has changed my dick
|by Anonymous||reply 6||07/01/2013|
"The internet has changed my dick."
Mine too. My dick no longer has the patience to read the tiny print on the sides of a thousand porn DVDs in the local porn store.
|by Anonymous||reply 7||07/01/2013|
[quote]What I seem to have lost is the other thing you're describing -- the pleasure of walking into a used book store and getting lost just browsing titles.
As one who grew up way before cyber-life I've yet to lose that great pleasure. But, I do find it akin to getting lost in a good web-browse, even to checking out DL: scanning titles, plucking a volume of interest, sampling the prose, keeping or moving on.
Both can use up an hour at least, ending with books bought or bookmarks clicked. I admit though that sans internet I'd read more of those bought books.
|by Anonymous||reply 8||07/02/2013|
Also old enough to remember a time Before. Two weeks ago I was reading a paper textbook I'd borrowed second page in I'd gotten to the second last paragraph and ran my finger up the side of the page to read more. It was only when it didn't work that I realised what I'd done. Touch screens really haven't been around long enough that I thought I'd fall for it.
To be fair, Before, I used to spend Sundays on the couch with all the newspapers, extras, weekend supplements and anything I hadn't caught up with during the week (incl. magazines) and read it all cover to cover. I don't bother with the access I have to EVERYTHING on call now, but sometimes I feel like I read/know about less on a week by week basis.
|by Anonymous||reply 9||07/02/2013|
You're probably just getting old, OP.
I'm 23 and have had internet pretty much since I could remember. I read books on my iPad, but I also LOVE bookstores. Especially used bookstores. I love searching all of the shelves and reading the covers and backs, and finding books I've never heard of or long forgot.
|by Anonymous||reply 10||07/02/2013|
you can change it back, op
I spent a period just "reading" bits on the internet, but it was also a stressful and unhappy period. I did not really have the concentration for books. The internet is addictive, so this dragged on a little longer than it should have.
I am like R3, I get books out of the library and I enjoy reading more than ever. As R3 said, I don't discover books at a bookstore. I tend to read about a book online or in a book review periodical. Bookstores have changed, too. A lot of them aren't as inviting or as charming as they used to be. It seems to be chains full of dumb or just small, grubby second-hand ones with a limited selection.
|by Anonymous||reply 11||07/02/2013|
I am 40.., and feel the exact same way..
|by Anonymous||reply 12||07/02/2013|
I am 42 and feel the exact same way; also I have ED
|by Anonymous||reply 13||07/02/2013|
Same here. Also 40, former lit major and bookseller and avid reader. Depressing. Can the seeming damage, the twitchy mind, be healed?
|by Anonymous||reply 14||07/02/2013|
The only time I do a lot of reading anymore is when I'm on holiday and away from the Internet.
|by Anonymous||reply 15||07/02/2013|
OP, your problem concentrating is well documented in a book by Nicholas Carr called "The Shallows" and it is reversible. I was developing the same problem that you have until I lost my job. I no longer sit in front of a computer 8 hours a day. A barely use my computer at home now, except to check out a few sites, such as Datalounge, and I don't own a smart phone or an iPad. My concentration is much better now and I spend hours every day reading books.
|by Anonymous||reply 16||07/02/2013|
I commute to work by train and I can still read books okay but I have a problem reading newspapers where I'll be a paragraph into one story and my eyes will jump down to a different story.
|by Anonymous||reply 17||07/02/2013|
Same age as the OP and I have participated in a couple of the "I'm addicted to the internet" threads on DL. Sadly, but unsurprisingly I'm still addicted. Recently I've averaged about 15 hours a day online. Mostly mindless surfing with work interspersed. I definitely feel my brain has been rewired over the last couple of decades.
I go through phases where I improve, I read or listen to books but these periods usually last a few weeks and it's back to surfing online. I even stopped DSL service for a couple of months but it was switched back on, it was right back into the online groove. Frightening how an addictive brain works.
Up until the late 90's I would buy the LA Times on Sunday, sprawl on the couch and read for a few hours. That seems so foreign to me now.
I've basically wasted much of 25 through 40 and I don't see it changing any time soon.
I use the DL book thread for recommendations. For the ones I have actually gotten around to reading, the recommendations have been very good. That's one good from spending so much time here.
|by Anonymous||reply 18||07/02/2013|
I'll have the Sunday paper on my lap and be halfway through an article and then remember there was something I wanted to check on my laptop!
|by Anonymous||reply 19||07/02/2013|
I often find that ever since the internet I find I am in the middle of someth
|by Anonymous||reply 20||07/02/2013|
The big for me is searching text within a document. If I'm reading a magazine or newspaper article in its print form, I find myself trying to hit "command F" so that I can search for a word or phrase within the text block.
|by Anonymous||reply 21||07/02/2013|
Drives me crazy not to be able to do that, R21.
|by Anonymous||reply 22||07/02/2013|
The internet has significantly decreased my attention span. No question about that.
|by Anonymous||reply 23||07/02/2013|
You are right OP. I want results right away. I can no longer have the patience to search for things in the material world.
|by Anonymous||reply 24||07/02/2013|
slightly off topic, but I've found that shopping in book stores is also impossible for me. I need more information than what's on the cover. If I'm going to read a new author, or jump into a series, I want to start with the best one. Or if the book is worth reading at all. The last few times I went to a book store it was because I wanted a specific book and each time, they didn't have it. I just use Amazon now.
|by Anonymous||reply 25||07/02/2013|
Ignore R1, OP.
And reject fools who claim that vision effects do not reflect brain changes. The brain is as much process as substance, nitwits.
But don't confuse early onset dementia with internet-use impact.
|by Anonymous||reply 26||07/02/2013|
Another thing I've noticed is that my anxiety level is much higher. For instance, when I have something to do that can't be taken care of right away. I hate the feeling I get when I can't jump right on a task and get if over with, from something as simple as calling someone to getting started on a project.
I don't know if that's the Internet or what. But I'm much more anxious.
|by Anonymous||reply 27||07/02/2013|
Outside of my computer and smart phone I don't own any other "devices". Nor do I have the desire to have them. Maybe because of this and growing up haunting libraries and bookstores I still love printed books. That said, I often feel I spend too much time clicking around the internet. Between checking e-mail on 4 accounts (I have 2 businesses with separate accounts, an old business account that some clients still use despite being given the new one time & again and a personal account), looking at business related sites and then just goofing off by checking places like FB, Twitter and DL I find hours have gone by with me staring at a screen.
I love printed books and doubt anything short of them ceasing to exist will change that. I also like to read an actual newspaper, partly for the news and partly because I enjoy doing crossword puzzles. Have tried doing those on line and it is just a pain in the ass unless you want to try to complete the thing in one sitting.
I can spend hours browsing bookstores. Maybe that's why I decided to open a used bookstore several years ago. And, STILL find myself in others.
|by Anonymous||reply 28||07/02/2013|
Where do you live, R28? I want to visit your bookstore. I love the way I can carry my Kindle with me and embiggen the font size, but I still like to buy real books.
|by Anonymous||reply 29||07/02/2013|
The Internet really does encourage ADD.
I find that I am more addicted these days to having constant stimulation. When staring at a screen, if I have to wait for something to refresh, I will click over to something else while I wait.
I am trying to kick the habit, but unfortunately, my work requires that I stay in this anxious heightened stimulated state in order to get a million things done, and I know that many of us can empathize with that.
|by Anonymous||reply 30||07/02/2013|
Talk about instant gratification, if I want to watch a clip on line but it first wants me to sit through a 30 second commercial, I bail!
|by Anonymous||reply 31||07/03/2013|
I totally agree, OP. I find it hard to concentrate on a book. It's easy to get stuck online. There is always something else to look up, another distraction. It really is changing our minds so we can't focus.
|by Anonymous||reply 32||07/03/2013|
I look at only a few sites each day on the Web, one of them being Datalounge, of course. I found myself wasting so much time trolling for trivia that I cut my Internet time way way back. I don't miss it at all.
|by Anonymous||reply 33||07/03/2013|
R33(or anybody else), got any good tips for internet addiction? I get roped in every single day, but I want to go days or weeks without it. It's different from a book or TV because it's not limited, it's whatever you can think to type.
|by Anonymous||reply 34||07/03/2013|
I'm a little leery of my need to have my cell or tablet with me whenever I watch a movie or something on TV--too frequent impulses to look up some trivia associated with the film or program, but I admit it does feel choppy and takes away from the immediate experience. Do I really need to know how old Kyra Sedgwick was during Season 4 of The Closer? Doubt it, but it seems very important to me at the time.
|by Anonymous||reply 35||07/03/2013|
The internet makes you less patient, but as others have said, it's still really great to sit down and read a book and get away from the computer for a while. Since I'm online a lot, I always stop and order a book (online) from the library regularly so I don't spend ALL my time on the internets.
|by Anonymous||reply 36||07/03/2013|
The texting amongst young people seems to have made them all into a bunch of retards.
|by Anonymous||reply 37||07/03/2013|