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The Shallows Case

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In The Shallows, Carr discusses the major point of how the internet affects the way we read, analyze and produce books. With the transfer from paper to digitalize text, we now hold the ability to take any books anywhere with us. We can read on our phones, laptops, and other small hand held devices like the new Kindle. Silent reading suffers a great deal due to the invention of online reading. Carr starts out in the book telling us how he came across the realization that reading online affects our ability to stay focused on one thing for a long period of time which, in the long, run affects our silent reading. "It was then that I began worrying about my inability to pay attention to one thing for more than a couple of minutes."(Carr 16) How often do we actually sit down and read a news article anymore? When we do read articles, they usually appear online because of a hyperlink and we skim through the article and then move on to a new site, and that causes the internet to reroute our minds and change the way we read.

The more we read online, the more our ability to pay attention worsens. Our brains reroute themselves when we perform new tasks and when we repeat them often. "Flowing water hollows out a channel for itself which grows broader and deeper, and when it flows again, it follows the path traced by itself before" (Carr 21) Our brains work in the same way. Every time we get on the internet, our brains rewire themselves to make the internet more accessible for the next time we find ourselves online. The internet has millions of different sites for its users to visit; therefore we tend to skim over articles briefly and then a new hyperlink takes us to a new site. With that process happening continuously, our brain forms itself to start paying less attention to one single item and more on seeing how it can multi-task, and that's why we now struggle to read printed text.

With the ability to read online, we made a habit out of multi-tasking. The habit of multi-tasking, while neither good nor bad, forms from too much use of the internet. With forming of new habits, we also lose some that are more important in the long run, like the ability to analyze a book. When silent reading first came about it was considered an unnatural process. Malcom X, after teaching himself how to read and write, while in prison wrote: "In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life." Referring to his new ability to read, Malcom X felt like reading set him free. He would get so lost in books that he never even thought about being imprisoned. We seem to lack the ability to get lost in a book nowadays. Now when we read, we skim through pages and our eyes tend to wander, we hardly ever find the deeper meaning of a book or passage like we use to do.

The last to switch to the digital age, the book, appeared portable enough so there seemed no reason to switch to the digitalized text.



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