Internet Use and the Depth of Thought

Lesley and I sat back and watched a PBS Frontline Series on Internet use and addiction and how much it is effecting our society.  Ironically, we watched it online.   It was eye-opening.

We’d heard tales before of kids locked into playing video games and losing all track of time.  But the report spanned every age group and went far beyond gaming.  Nevertheless, the strongest influence seems to be on the young who grow up with computers in school and where teachers are reporting that students are watching videos and social networking during lectures, that their attention span is far less, and that while most think they are very good at multitasking, in reality, they are not.

The show covered some extreme cases.  While my heart went out for those folks and their families it isn’t what bothered me the most.  There will always be those who misuse and abuse whatever is before them from food to alcohol to money.  But what bothered me the most was when professors came on and said that in college today, they are reluctant to give students anything to read that is over 200 pages.  If they assign such a task, the students will inevitably go out and find a summary.  The average student isn’t either willing or able to sit and concentrate on a single topic that long.

How can we tackle serious issues as a society if everything needs to be presented quickly, simply, and graphically?  Some problems can’t be even illustrated briefly more less solutions found without sustained thought and focus.

I am not about to jump on an anti-internet bandwagon.  But I do think we need to adapt to it and think of ways to deepen the conversation in society today.  It’s like someone who gets a new comfy chair.  That’s great!  We’re glad it is comfortable.  But if you sit in it too long and don’t get out, you might not be able to walk very well, more less run, when you need to do so.

Speaking of which, it is time for me to get to the Y and get off this comfy couch at the coffee shop and go run!

All the best and until next time,



6 thoughts on “Internet Use and the Depth of Thought

  1. Good post. . . love the irony.

    Tom,don’t you think this is one of the issues facing the church today, how do we maintain our theological intregrity when across the board people seem to be loooking for their informaiton in soundbites that too often carry little substance?

    Grace and peace,


    1. There is no question Lisa that this is a major issue for the church. Our paradigm is not set up for young adults growing up today. Even if we get visuals in our sanctuaries, we are still behind the power curve. We’ve got to figure out a way for a much more ‘interactive’ experience at church. And how you do that in a learning environment (which hopefully church is) is something we need to watch closely what is working in secular educational environments.

  2. I was joking in my own head that I would have loved a 200 page summary for Karl Barth’s writings in seminary, but to think of all that I would have missed. And of course the Bible is more than 200 pages. But then, most people don’t sit down and read it all the way through. What is important to us, we usually take the time to read. But maybe that is not true for 28 year olds today.

  3. I wonder if we could improve by having ‘recommended readings’ for the congregation every month or every quarter with opportunities to interact on those readings. And I wonder if we shouldn’t have pages off our web page, or links, of recommended readings. 28 year olds are reading but are doing so in snippets here and there.

    1. Dialog is important. But sometimes creativity is too. If you had asked me if I want to see a movie made on a certain topic it might not think I was as interested as I would end up being after I saw it. I think we ask but also try out some recommended readings and see what happens from there.

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