Internet-Based ADD: Do You Have It?

Yesterday, I was so antsy I couldn’t sit still to write. Nor could I read.

I couldn’t pinpoint a reason. As far as I knew, all my kids were fine. All my grandkids were fine. I was fine.

But goodness. I couldn’t sit still for love nor money.

What’s Wrong?

I don’t think I have ADD–or I didn’t used to. I am beginning to wonder lately. But why?

Then it dawned on me. I had been on the Internet nearly all morning.

It started out for some legitimate research. It expanded into email chatting, Facebook, blog reading, more email, posting comments, seeing if anyone responded to any of my comments, arranging a neighborhood meeting, checking weather for Saturday to see what to plan for my granddaughter’s visit…and much more.

Times Have Changed

Really and truly, I never used to be this way. I was the Queen of Concentration. Even with small children underfoot. Even when sick or in the hospital.

I just can’t concentrate like I used to. And according to research and a recent book, many of us don’t. Why? Either Internet addiction or how our brains have been rewired in recent years through Internet use.

I don’t know about you, but I want my concentration back. NOW.

Internet ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

I found a good number of articles on Internet ADD, and most of them recommended abstaining from media for a day or two, or limiting your Internet use in various ways.

If you have trouble concentrating these days, read on…

The Internet Causes A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) has a good post. Among other things, it says:

With feed readers passing hundreds or thousands of blog posts by us a day, with Twitter and Facebook updates flowing like water, with email screaming for attention every few minutes, we have no more attention to give. We can’t pay attention to anything because we really give our full attention to very little any more.

Whenever I’m having any kind of problem, I assume I’m not the only one. I also assume that someone has written a book about it. They have. It’s by Nicholas Carr and called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

Briefly, interaction with the Web changes how we think, in part by rewiring how we consume information. Attention spans are shorter and tasks like reading a long magazine article or book are harder.

Do You Identify?

Nicholas writes:

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy.

Nicholas writes that, based on quantifiable research, “Internet use reroutes people’s neural pathways”—and quickly, too. Hyperlinks within an article are more detrimental than beneficial: “Jumping between digital documents impedes understanding” and “research continues to show that people who read linear text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read text peppered with links.”

Think of Yourself–and Your Children

Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.

The Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming very skilled at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection. As writers, that ought to scare us.

What are you doing–if anything–to monitor or limit the destructive side of the Internet? Please share tips that work for you.

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2 Responses to Internet-Based ADD: Do You Have It?

  1. Linda says:

    I identify completely with what you’re describing. I’ve also read The Shallows and recognized myself in the book. I don’t do social networking, so I’m not as distracted as some. But I’m still way too distracted. And it’s way too hard for me to read a book all the way through anymore. That wasn’t true years ago.

  2. kwpadmin says:

    Linda, I’m really working on that too. I am trying to decide which social networking things to keep and which to give up, since publishers seem to think you need to be on six or seven networking sites. It can make you sightly nuts! And I hate the inner agitated feeling I get from being online much. It steals my peace! And I really, really miss the relaxed bliss of sinking, sinking, sinking into a great book and losing track of time… I’m determined to get that back! 8-)

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