I’ve Gone Stupid and It Isn’t My Fault!

My friend passed this article along today.  In a nutshell, it basically says that the common use of the Internet is reprogramming the way that we think, and we’re losing the ability to concentrate on longer things.  At least that’s what I think it says, because it got all long and technical and I ended up skimming quite a bit.  The irony is not lost on me.

My husband and I were having this exact same conversation yesterday.  It went down in the grocery store parking lot.


Me: I think I’m dumbing down.

Hubby: Why is that? 

Me: I can’t concentrate anymore.  I lose interest right in the middle of…

Hubby: (waits patiently)

Me: (Humming) 

Hubby:  Uh, Sadie?

Me:  Oh, look, kids!  A bird!


This hurts because I’m an intelligent woman. But suddenly I’m feeling like I should be sitting in the corner and wearing a dunce cap.  My ability to wrap my mind around things is eroding.  Take computers, for example. 


Computery Friend: All right.  Now I want you to shut it down and start it back up just like I showed you.

Me: Um…

Computery Friend: You can check your notes.

Me: (Reading) Go to computer hard drive.  Uh…here?

Computery Friend: (Longing for a strong drink)  …yes.

Me: I have other skills, you know!  If you were lost in a foreign country, I could totally get you back on onto the right train.

Computery Friend:  I believe you.


But it’s more than this.  I don’t take the time to read like I used to.  When I do read, I’m reading two or three or four works at a time.  When I really settle down, I can read a novel in a day, but lately it’s been taking me weeks.  Last night we watched Howl’s Moving Castle, and I had to make a conscious effort to close down the computer and pay attention.  Then I jumped up to do the dishes, clean around the living room a bit, wash my face, and tend to the kids.  I remember having awesome movie marathons with my friends in high school, and we’d slay two, three movies at a time.  Yeah…no way. 

So what do we do?  Accept it?  Call it a new way of life?  Or unplug?  I know half of my brain-drain stems from working in five to ten minute increments, since that’s all the kids allow.  Tiny, wonderful, needy little things, but it won’t always be this way.  One day they’ll be able to get their own drinks of water and my world will open up again.  But the rest?  I think that I’m just going to have to call on the ole’ discipline again.  We’re a society of zero discipline, and have forgotten how to buckle down and work for the things that we want as a whole, but that’s a rant for another day.  The end result is that now that I’m aware how distracted I truly am, I can take the measures needed to make sure that I

Ooh, shiny!


Two more rejections. 

Pieces out: 36

Goal: 40

0 Comments on “I’ve Gone Stupid and It Isn’t My Fault!”

  1. I have to disagree completely! if anything the internet makes us seek out knowledge and not confine ourselves to the common way of thinking. But like you said it’s a culture thing, not just the internet. Well I don’t believe it, not at all, I do my best work in 15 minute sessions. I can accept that my body will delapidate with time, but I refuse to accept that my mind will. (and studies reinforce my opinion-sortof) I won’t blame this phenomona on anything more than you (and the rest of us)not having enough time in the day.
    p.s. (and maybe videogaming. I wonder, is too mindless a recreation? … yeah probably) 😉

  2. Sure, Riley, but we both know that you can find statistics and studies that can back up anything you want. That’s the first thing they teach you in Sociology 101: numbers mean nothing.

    I’ll agree that it’s definitely easier to look things up with the Internet. But there was value in spending hours at the library. I learned how to do difficult things. When things are too easy and convenient, I think that I start to lose my character.

    Gaming, what? It’s nothing but goodness and light, I tell you!! 😉

  3. I’m with you there…it takes me weeks, or even months, to finish reading novels anymore. I love reading, but my time is squeezed more than ever every week. I’m doing more audiobooks, though.

    I think the whole attention span thing is going to be the death of traditional literature more so than the financial model collapsing…people don’t even like to read long blog posts, or even spend the time to say they don’t like to read long blog posts (“tl;dr”).

  4. not sure if I agree or not. I have never liked watching TV or movies much. But I still have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time.
    However, I do find myself checking the ‘net more often, much to my chagrin.

  5. I think this is an interesting topic. Even though the internet was around when we were in high school, we definitely did not grow up being “connected” all the time. I just think we need to adapt. Being constantly connected with information is a relatively new thing. I would only claim that I’ve been constantly connected to information only for the last 3 years (since I got an internet enabled phone). I’m definitely still figuring out my boundaries, but I think I will adapt. I hope I will adapt.

    I think our kids will grow up being perfectly capable of managing the bombardment of information that we are just now trying to adapt to.

    I too have read far less books than in the past. I’m not a fast reader to begin with, but I don’t even remember the last book I actually finished cover to cover. Except for that one, you know, yeah, that one. However, I would argue that the knowledge I’ve gained in the last 3 years far surpasses what I learned in high school and college combined. I am constantly devouring information and learning new things thanks to all of this connectedness. I just learn things in smaller chunks at a time. I also learn the same thing from multiple sources sometimes. In a way, that kind of validates what I learned I think.

    I just need to remind myself that it is okay, and probably necessary, to take breaks from it all.

  6. You are hitting something right on the head that has been bugging me too.

    I used to read all the time. Lately I can’t seem to get halfway through a book without getting bored with it or just simply shutting down in the middle of it.
    I don’t know if it’s lack of attention, dumbing down or simply that we are all just too damn busy too much of the time anymore, and too chronically tired.

    I think it’s a mixture of all of the above. When we’re so busy and so tired, it’s hard to concentrate, hard to have any kind of attention span.
    At night I fall into bed and I’m lucky to kiss my spouse goodnight before we are snoring. We crash so hard. We run so much we just fall down and sleep the sleep of the dead. Or rather she does. I just toss and turn and sleep a half sleep, which in turns dumbs me down even more, leaving me even more exhausted.

    I think maybe I do need a shut down…..

    someone hit my restart button?

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