Delinking the internet and relinking the brain

This is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while:

Claire Handscombe has a commitment problem online. Like a lot of Web surfers, she clicks on links posted on social networks, reads a few sentences, looks for exciting words, and then grows restless, scampering off to the next page she probably won’t commit to. But it’s not just online anymore.

To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia. (Source Link)

One of the reasons why I sometimes find it difficult to write is the neverending need to hunt down relevant links and add them to my post for reference, but that always seems to disrupt my thought process, and I notice I have the same issue with reading too.  I check out a news item on Feedly, start reading the article and as soon as I see a link, my brain goes, “OOOOH SHINY LINK!” *CLICKS*

Before you know it, I have 500 tabs open in my browser generated from links I’ve clicked on, and nope, I never did finish reading the original article.

I suspect I’m not the only one either, and it’s made me wonder whether I should try a little experiment on this blog by writing posts without ANY links in them.  Will more people be able to read my content distraction free?  Or more importantly, will my own blogging start to improve as I resist the urge to add links and just focus on writing?  I suspect it would.

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9 Responses to Delinking the internet and relinking the brain

  1. Maeve April 15, 2014 at 1:09 AM #

    Easy there, Frank – you don’t need the total withdrawal now. How about you start a “Linkless Friday” or something – you know, break it in gently.

    • Frank Swift April 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM #

      Or maybe Saturday, make it a Sabbath thingm only we could call it the Linkkath.

    • Maeve April 15, 2014 at 12:37 PM #

      That’s cute. But I do think maybe you could have a weekly post that discusses some aspect of “something” (I used to post about Silly Stuff on Sundays – goofy things I’d come across – but have held off for Lent).

      Anyhoo…a linkless column might just be a nice challenge for you – stretch yourself so to speak..

      And also – Happy Easter!

  2. a April 16, 2014 at 6:35 PM #

    Technically…..
    less links = Safari is “snappier.”

    Less bloat = faster page loads.

    I like your site, but it is also the slowest to load by a lot.

    Hope I didn’t make a gangsta’ cry!

    • Frank Swift April 16, 2014 at 6:52 PM #

      You’re not using IE, are you? I purposely throttle Internet Explorer to evoke rage against Microsoft and get people to switch over to a real browser. I’m a giver like that.

    • a April 16, 2014 at 9:02 PM #

      Wow. Lotta love there!

      I haven’t used IE since Firefox came out.
      My Identifier was set to “IE,” though
      What does it say now?

      About this post….
      I agree about this brain change theory…
      Entire groups of friends and families share the same space/time continuum, yet each individual has their nose buried in their own mobile device, and they rarely talk to each other.
      We barely know how to relate to each other beyond 140 characters.
      That would require time, effort, and depth of understanding – caring for another beyond our own limits of convenience.

      I think it is the mental equivalent of a fast-food craving/addiction.
      Too much exposure to the distraction of good tasting food will modify the brain chemistry correlating to our physical desires, causing us to search for the temporal superficiality of great flavor over long-term nutritional content. This is the same way that we choose our bf/gf, by preferring superficial external characteristics that appear attractive over internal qualities that bring greater long-term health and happiness.

      Would you skip a “6” and go for the “9” each time, even if that “6” has a heart of gold? Do you have to make excuses for yourself and rationalize why you would want to stay with an “8”, when you know they aren’t right for your long-term spiritual/emotional well-being?

      And, to you, Frank…
      Does your girlfriend look like a cheeseburger?
      Or a meat-bagel, for that matter?

      Until society learns that these attractive-yet-superficial “quick-fix” imitation replacements won’t deliver the nutrition we need for great relationships, or until we begin to prefer the slightly-less-attractive-yet-authentic-and-healthy, homemade original, we’re all stuck at MacDonalds using IE.

      There is a very good reason the “quick-fix” product never lives up to the promise of advertising. Real quality only exists beyond the shiny glimmer of fish bait. The best products don’t need fancy marketing gimmicks.

      But, we’re all suckers for click-bait, aren’t we?!

      And what good is a friend if they won’t put down that distraction and embrace the real?!

    • Frank Swift April 16, 2014 at 10:37 PM #

      This discussion is making me hungry, and yo, if you thought my meat bagel was bad wait till you see my grilled cheese concoction.

      BTW, I see you using…. IE 9. (LOOOOOOOOOOL) But ok, you’re not using the correct identifier, so you get a pass for now.

      You know, I’ve actually gotten involved with women who were about average in looks before (a 6, maybe a 7 on a good day). While they didn’t make me step on my tongue and drool excessively like a Great Pyrenees, they were attractive enough to lubricate the old engine, if ya know what I izz sezzin’. They flamed out where it mattered though, profound differences in beliefs, culture, personality, etc that both of us would wind up feeling even more lonely being together, because we wouldn’t be able to relate to each other in a meaningful way.

      Anyway, I find my perspective a bit unique, whereas even though I’m nose deep into my iPhone all the time, I sort of have an excuse for it because of my hearing impairment. It’s difficult for me to have discussions in real life unless the environment is relatively quiet, and I much prefer the written form of communication than speaking. I see the value in face to face contact though, and it’s something I’d like to practice doing better with, except that everyone is always busy on their phones. Ahhh, rich, sweet irony.

    • a April 17, 2014 at 12:37 PM #

      Were you born with a hearing impairment, or was that from some horrible life event?

      I’m using an iPad, not a computer.

      And color me intrigued!
      Tell me more about this delightful grilled cheese concoction of which you speak so fondly.

    • Frank Swift April 17, 2014 at 1:41 PM #

      Well I was born of a woman, that alone would make it a horrific event. (I keeed, I keeed.)

      I do think my hearing was normal at birth, but over time my mom started to notice I was no longer responding to sounds anymore. I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was 4.

      As for teh cheez, I’ll be blogging it later this week. I wish I could say I was the inventor, but alas I am merely the apprentice here, not the master.

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