As someone who was a participant for a study on reading and comprehension levels in my state, I have to admit that Google has caused some problems in my college career. Google can be great and helpful when you’re on a time crunch or just need the paragraph overview. But like Carr speaks to in his article, it means we skim quickly and move on to the next link on the page.
I’m an English major, I have to do a lot of reading. So being assigned a book a week meant that I wasn’t truly reading and comprehending. I didn’t have the time or the focus to read and think about every line on the page. Instead I skimmed each chapter, got a summary of the plot and knew only three of the characters’ names. Maybe that’s just what has come out of college, but that’s not how I want to read.
When I was in 5th grade I was reading at the level of a high scoring SAT 11th grader. Now? I get restless when I try to enjoy a book. Let’s ignore textbooks, because those are a whole other monster with a whole other set of problems. I’ve noticed that since becoming dependent on online research, I have to jump from one thing to another. I pick up a book, read for a bit, go on my phone and check all my social media, then go back to reading. I can’t just sit and read for extended periods of time because I don’t remember what I read or I find myself skipping entire paragraphs just to move it along faster.
Carr also commented on how the thought process when typed out is different than if you write it down on paper. When I read that, I thought immediately of all the times people had asked me why I write on paper instead of typing up the book I’m writing. I’d never really thought about it, just shrugged it off with a, “oh, this is just easier for me.” But when I write out my story, I’ll end up with all sorts of crossed out lines and changed words because I tend to edit as I write. When I type, I lose all those revisions and new ideas. I can’t retrace my steps or my train of thought when I delete in a Word doc.
So call me old fashioned, but I’ll stick to my pen and paperbacks, thanks.