If you Google for this thread’s title, “my blog will make you stupid”, you will probably get my blog posting as the first hit:
I was writing about a book I read, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains”, by Nicholas Carr. The basic idea is that long term exposure to the Internet hinders our ability to concentrate and experience “deep learning” that comes from book reading, and it is doing this at a neurological level. (This concern was also factor in my other thread asking for multi-volume book recommendations.)
The blog posting was for a secular audience. Here, I’d like to bring up another concern that the book made me think about: does the Internet affect our ability to pray? Mental prayer generally requires prolonged focus, concentration, or at least quiet time. Personally, I spend more time than ever on the Internet. I also find it difficult to spend any significant time in quiet prayer. Blaise Pascal famously said “I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man’s being unable to sit still and quiet in a room alone”. The cacophony of human life tends to distract us from the eternal: this was true even centuries ago.
Carr’s book talked about pre-Gutenberg literature, the difficulty in reading “scriptura continua” – unpunctuated text – that allowed only a select few to undertake the task. What he did not emphasize to a secular audience was that this scriptura was often Scripture. Printed Bibles today make God’s revelation far more accessible to a general audience. But if we lack the mental ability to take advantage of this medium, then that advantage is lost.
The Internet offers incomparable richness of media and information at our fingertips. I’m not saying that you should stop reading these forums. But what of its risks to us, both intellectually and spiritually?