This article is most certainly alarmist, but has a few points worth considering:
- To what degree are attentiveness and being distracted physiological conditions? The author claims that knowledge of the brain tells us that if you’re driving, and someone is describing something over the phone that requires you to visualize it, a “visual channel” will get “clogged” and you could “lose your sense of the road.”
- More to the point: does this article rely on a conception of “attention = good” and “distraction (or anything that isn’t strictly “attention”) = evil?”
- Something about the metaphors used to describe what’s wrong with Facebook and Myspace in this article doesn’t strike me as entirely credible. The primary complaint is that one goes there for “gossip and social banter,” but then one makes “friends” that not only aren’t real, but could be dismissed with a simple click even if they do offer something worthwhile. I don’t know why this doesn’t resonate with me, but I will offer this: twice I have met people purely online to whom I gave an enormous amount of knowledge and got zilch for it. Both were traditionalist Catholics of the “Latin Mass FTW’ variety (ironically enough – neither were affiliated with UD in any way). They were the only ones to never give anything of any worth to me or even acknowledge my existence after a short while (in their defense: I do accept prayers, and could be wrong about how much they’ve forgotten me). I think the author might be underestimating just how cold and self-righteous we would have to be to completely forget about people we meet online, for we’re online ourselves.
- Towards the end of the article – I’d guess the complaints about kids learning nothing through computer overuse reflect on the kids, not the technology. It is possible to gain an enormous amount of technical expertise online. And any adult who says he doesn’t have the patience for a longer blog post anymore is probably an idiot. He can look in the mirror to figure out where that problem has arisen.