Click to be thick?

Friday - - News -

It has been de­scribed by the head of Google as the “largest ex­per­i­ment in an­ar­chy we have ever cre­ated”. Sci­en­tists be­lieve it’s re­spon­si­ble for our in­abil­ity to con­cen­trate and that with all its dis­trac­tions and diver­sions it is dumbing us down. What is this evil that has changed the way we think, shop and be­have? The in­ter­net, ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts, and they seem to have a point.

I used to de­vour a news­pa­per, or chunks of a book, with­out lift­ing my head. I was lost in the world the words cre­ated. Now I can’t even fin­ish this in­tro­duc­tion with­out check­ing my Face­book, Twit­ter, LinkedIn, Pin­ter­est, emails, texts and apps. Ev­ery 20 sec­onds I veer off-piste to open a hy­per­link, scroll through my mo­bile mes­sages or flick and flip through a dig­i­tal photo gallery. And when I’m not swip­ing, slid­ing or tap­ping, I’m click­ing. It means I’m multitasking to the max but achiev­ing very lit­tle.

The web-wary move­ment says our re­liance on the small screen is rewiring our brains and that the ar­chi­tec­ture of the in­ter­net and de­vices we use to ac­cess it are erod­ing our abil­ity to fo­cus, un­der­stand or in­ter­pret in­for­ma­tion. Soon the lean-in gen­er­a­tion will suf­fer from cog­ni­tive over­load where our mem­ory can’t func­tion prop­erly and we can’t sift the im­por­tant stuff from the trivia. Ul­ti­mately, the boffins ar­gue, we all be­come iso­lated by our in­ter­ac­tion with the net. So what’s the an­swer? It’s easy to say “switch off the phone and step away from the iPad”, but go­ing dig­i­tal cold turkey is im­pos­si­ble for many of us. Read our fas­ci­nat­ing re­port on page 28 and let me know if we’re a na­tion of dig­i­tal zom­bies – or just well con­nected. Un­til next week,

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