Caitlin Jeffery

Exploring the depths of digital literature

The Printed Web

on April 5, 2013

I am sitting here typing on my iPad, the tv is on in the background, and I have 4 articles printed out on my lap. Technology is beckoning me away from typing as much as it did when I was reading. How easy would it be to stop writing at this moment and start playing Angry Birds, surf the Internet, read a book, or do all of these at once? I used to be able to curl up in my bed and read for hours and now I have to push myself to focus on two pages of text. I relate when in “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Friedman is quoted “[A] blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” There is so much truth to this. I often find myself mid-article getting curious about something else and moving on and on and on. I may have started reading about maternity leave and somehow ends up on an article about cannibalism.

As readers, we tend to think we are a bit smarter, a little more refined in taste than others. Yet how easily any of us can get pulled into YouTube videos of cats. I spent a good chunk of my day looking for sloth gifs (so adorable by the way). But how is this enriching to me? I have a phone in my pocket that connects me to things in a way my parents generation ever thought possible. Who needs to know anything when you can Google it.

But while I love technology and the ability to access anything I could ever want to know, it does worry me about what it means for the future. I recently tweeted “Information: Our parents had to know it, our children have to know how to find it, we have had to do both. Curious what the effects will be.” Nicholas Carr asking the simple question, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” is something I really worry about as a mother. I grew with the technology and have familiarity with what came before. My kids were born into technology. You should see how my 5 year old can maneuver around Netflix or access apps on my phone or iPad. Heck she even me prized my password from watching me swipe.

I read “The Veldt” before in high school and I think I sort of wrote it off. Reading it as a mom, I had a physical reaction to the story. It made me sick thinking of technology replacing the parents. When Peter wishes his father dead and he replies “We were, for a long while. Now we are really going to start living,” I can see how the engrossment in our own technology is a sort of death. With Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. it feels as if at time meaningful communication is gone. I tend to call people less because I can just check up on them when I have time. It creates a selfish and isolated form of communication.

I don’t think we are at an stage where technology can 100% parent our children, but they can easily learn more from a tv show or iPad application than parents at times. I struggle to find the balance and I worry that my kids ability to access information whenever will make them not care to know or remember it.

In the end though I agree with Carr that technology is like books, there is a lot of garbage out there and you have to make the conscious effort to weed out the crap and find richer works.

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2 responses to “The Printed Web

  1. theblume says:

    Great post Caitlin! I really liked when you said “I worry that my kids ability to access information whenever will make them not care to know or remember it.” This is a very insightful point that I never realized. With all information available whenever we want it on the internet, its almost as if we no longer have need for storing information within ourselves.

  2. “My kids were born into technology. You should see how my 5 year old can maneuver around Netflix or access apps on my phone or iPad.”

    My kids aren’t sure what to do when someone hands them a cell-phone that doesn’t have a touch screen. They slide their finger across it and get frustrated when it doesn’t do what they expect it to. The ability to manuever and adapt to the digital world is a literacy, in much the same way that being able to read and write is. It is a different world, but with some careful nudging in the right direction, our children will be fine. The fact that we are even concerned about how technology affects our kids is a step in the right direction – so many people either have no clue or don’t care.

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