Distractions

It took me about 3 hours to read Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/). Why would it take me so long to read a 4,000 word document? Well, I kept getting distracted. In the midst of reading…

To be honest, I just started reading another one of the assigned articles when I got distracted again and started writing this blog post. I am also chatting online with my sister (hey Josie). While I’d love to vehemently argue that the internet provides us with more good than bad, I’m afraid that I’ve become an example of exactly what Carr was describing. I couldn’t get through the text because there was a lot of it and I’m used to skimming on the computer. I don’t want to sit and read pages and pages of material online. However, I will say that part of that could just be the method in which information is conveyed. I still love to read a good book, and when reading long papers I will print them out every time just so I don’t have to read them on the screen (sorry trees). I don’t think things are quite as bad as Carr suggests in his article, but I do think we are more prone to distraction now than ever before.

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Distractions

  1. sequencingscott

    “I do think we are more prone to distraction now than ever before”

    I am trying to decide how much I agree with this statement that you made (while also checking FB, checking my email, and looking at an article that my PI sent to me). We are surrounded by distraction, and it does challenge our ability to focus on a single topic or task. If you intended that meaning, then so far we are on the same page. The way you phrase it, though…”we are more prone to distraction”…that statement (to me) implies that “we” have changed. Something about “us” has changed, perhaps physiologically, to make us more prone to distraction. I am not so sure about that. I think it is about context, which you touched upon. You still love reading a good book, and so do I. I also find it easier to read a paper that has been printed out, than one on the screen. Still, when reading a paper on the PC, I find it easier to open it as a PDF in Reader than to try to read it in an internet browser. Why? Distraction. On the browser, there may be sideboards and adds with tantalizing things to read. I also see my tabs, and note when I receive a new email. I intentionally leave FB closed at work so I do receive notifications. At least when reading a PDF in Reader I can minimize the browser and ignore those distractions for a while. Even easier to move away from the PC altogether.

    So is it actually “us”, or is it just the way we learn to interact with things (the context)? I learned to read books when I was young, and still love to do it. I do not find that my ability to do that has changed, unless I try to do it sitting in front of a computer with all of the things opened and notifying me of all of the other things. It all depends on the context. I guess if what you meant was “when using the internet, we are more likely to encounter distractions now than ever before”, then we are in agreement. If what you meant was “our brains are more susceptible to distraction now than ever before”, then I think that I disagree.

  2. IPSUKS

    Yeah. I have ADD and I’m a beast when it comes to multitasking, but I cannot stay focu…
    Oh, and print everything! We can plant more trees and it’s good for the enviroment (and business)! At least that’s what I’m told.
    Good post Missie, now I’m going to watch random jiujitsu videos on YouTube.

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