This is a Guest Post by Hajera Blagg who is a freelance writer based in Houston, TX. She frequently contributes content to OnlineUniversities.com. If you would like to write for TheDolt’s Blog, do read our page Be My Guest; Write A Guest Post.
In a now-famous Atlantic Monthly article, writer Nicholas Carr asked his readers,“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” In the article, Carr explains how the constantly updating, speedy pace of the Internet is profoundly changing the way we process information. Using both anecdotal evidence from his own experiences with the Internet, as well as drawing on studies in neuroscience and social sciences, Carr expounded his views into a book called “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.”
If what Carr claims is true, then our ability for sustained thought and concentration is under direct threat by spending so much time on the Net. From my own experiences, I’m fairly certain that this is the case, as I used to be able to completely immerse myself in full-length books, but since spending more time on the Internet as freelance web writer, my attention span is much more difficult to hold steady. Here’s what I’ve done to make sure that I minimize the more insidious mental effects of surfing:
- Take frequent breaks from the surfing. If you work for a job that requires that you spend most of your time online, be sure to take a five or ten minute break every few minutes. I’ve found that this helps more than you think it will, and it also prevents physical strain on your eyes and joints from sitting in one position for so long.
- Try reading at least one book or magazine a month. Even if you aren’t a voracious reader, it’s a good idea to try and get long-form reading into your daily routine. Training your brain to be able to focus on a sustained argument or plot helps you to practice focusing your attention.
- Join a meditation or yoga group. One reason that the Internet can sometimes drain us of our mental capacities is that it immerses us in an environment of constant stimulation. From advertisements, to Facebook status updates, to hyperlinks that constantly clamor for our attention, our brains become exhausted trying to keep up. The whole point of yoga and meditation is to clear our minds of outside stimuli, to practice not thinking. In
this way, meditation offers a respite from the stimulation, giving our brains a much-needed break. After I started meditation, I noticed that it made a huge difference in my ability to concentrate.
- When you’re on vacation, completely unplug. While momentary breaks from the Internet during protracted periods of surfing can be helpful, sometimes a longer break is needed. If you have a few days off from work or school or any other environment that requires use of the Web, stifle your temptation to take a mobile device with you. If you aren’t required to check emails, then create an automatic setting on your account such that everyone sending you emails will be sent a notification that you’re on vacation and will reply when you return. Last time I took a break, I didn’t use the Internet for two-full weeks, and I immediately noticed a difference.