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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

In shallow water

<ir="ltr">The Internet makes us shallow.

It’s a damning statement, certainly. But protecting our egos by affirming our depth in spite of the Internet’s ubiquity does not change its truth.

The Internet makes us shallow by reducing the appeal and accessibility of “deep” experiences in place of “shallow” ones. We sit on buses next to people from different countries with different lives and different beliefs – and, rather than talking with them, we play 2048 on our smartphones. We try to avoid thinking at all costs, listening to music on the five-minute walk to class and checking our emails while we’re waiting in line. Instead of going out and exploring the real world, with its real pains and consequences, we prefer to hide in the imagined world of the Internet, free from responsibility and harm. Deep and shallow are subjective terms, but can be “objectively” defined by asking, “When you are on your deathbed, what will you remember?” The answer, I believe, is more likely to be something that you did (deep), rather that something that you tweeted (shallow).

The Internet provides us with incredible access to information, but this lessens the need to come up with our own ideas; who needs critical text analysis when we have SparkNotes? We have information on our phones, making it less necessary to have it in our brains. The Internet connects us to people all around the world, but we have difficulties connecting with people even in our immediate surroundings. The Internet has many positive possibilities, but our tendency towards its shallower aspects outweighs the chances for it to actually make us deeper.

This is driven by neither malice towards technology, nor a belief that I know the “truth” about the Internet. Rather, it’s driven by when I’m at restaurants and see married couples mute as they scroll through their feeds during dinner; when I see parents ignoring their kids in favor of their phones; and when I see friends at a table at LDC talking to one another while simultaneously checking their Facebook and Twitters. It’s not in my purview to snatch the smartphones from their hands and force them to talk to one another. But the frequency of these occurrences makes me ask myself: “Does the Internet make us deeper or shallower?”

It’s not a black and white question. But, overall, I would tend to say the latter.

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