The way in which technology has changed the way we look at the world is one in which we must be aware of. As a society, the use of smartphones has transformed communication, changing the way of forming connections with others.
Well-known author and essayist Nicholas Carr came to Gonzaga and gave a lecture entitled, “What our Smartphones are Doing to Our Minds” for the annual Arnold Lecture at the Hemmingson Ballroom Thursday night. Carr is a New York Times Best Selling Author, and some of his well-known books include "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, and The Glass Cage." This was Carr’s first ever visit to Spokane.
The crowd was mixed of students and people from the Spokane community. Carr, who had been writing about technology for 20 years, wanted to talk to the audience about the effects our smartphones have on our everyday lives. He started with the topic of multitasking and the difficulties of it due to the difficulty of maintaining one thing at a time, then he transitioned to the idea of intellectual technologies, which he defined as, “tools we use to think with, what we use to find, store, organize, analyze and share information and ideas.”
After this description, Carr gave some statistics about the youth of America and the use of their cellphones. All of his research was based on studies and surveys that were completed at colleges such as the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Arkansas. Some of the stats Carr shared included that on average, college students are on their phones for 5 hours a day, checking their phone 80 times a day. Also, from 2015-2018, there has been a 21% increase in college students checking their phone almost constantly, changing from 24% to 45%.
Carr continued by talking about how we as a society are always wanting to keep up to date and never wanting to miss out on any new information. Carr said that he believes we are nervous to know what new information is, and this was supported by studies that showed students did worse on assignments when their phone was in sight than if there phone was out of sight. Carr continued by talking about how we are losing the contemplative mind, referring to the lack of the ability for us to reflect on our everyday lives.
Sophomore Thomas Kearns said he wouldn’t disagree with the information that was presented by Carr, but believes information needs to be specified solely to facts rather than insight.
“We should be very careful on how we present psychological information,” Kearns said.
Carr ended with a quote from David Foster Wallace. “Learning how to think… means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”