So you're reading an article online when you get an instant message with a link to a funny photo, which of course you have to share, and now you're reading your Facebook news wall, which sends you to a video of a panda bear attacking a kid, and now you're reading Wikipedia to learn everything you can about the violent behavior of panda bears. And this is what three minutes on the Internet can be like.
在你收到一則附有搞笑圖片連結的即時訊息時，你正在網路上讀一篇文章，你當然得分享那張搞笑圖片，然後現在你在看你的 Facebook 塗鴉牆，那又把你帶到一個貓熊攻擊孩童的影片，現在你在看維基百科好盡可能地了解關於貓熊暴力行為的一切。而這就是網路上三分鐘可能發生的情形。
We live like this all the time, and it has to have some kind of an effect on us.
The Net is making us more superficial as thinkers.
That is Nicholas Carr. He is the author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. To understand this whole thing better, we need to go way back in time, to say, like, the prehistoric age.
那是 Nicholas Carr。他是《網路讓我們變笨？：數位科技正在改變我們的大腦、思考與閱讀行為》的作者。要更了解這整件事，我們需要回到很久很久以前，好比說，像是，史前時代。
You wanted to know everything going on around you because the more you knew about your surroundings, the less likely you were to get attacked by a predator. And there's even evidence that our brains release some dopamine (a pleasure-producing neurotransmitter chemical) to reward us for seeking out or finding new information.
你想要知道所有發生在你身邊的事情，因為你越了解周圍環境，你就越不會被掠食者攻擊。甚至還有證據顯示，我們的大腦會釋出一些多巴胺 (一種產生愉悅感的神經傳導化學物質) 以作為我們尋找新資訊的獎勵。
So getting distracted felt good and helped us stay alive. But the problem is that nowadays, predators aren't much of an issue, but we still have the same brains. And also, there's the Internet, which is...
It's an incredibly information-rich environment that the Net creates for us, and that's why you use it so much. I mean sounds, pictures, words, texts, and what this tends to do is promote a sort of compulsive behavior, in which we're constantly checking our smartphone, constantly glancing at our email inbox. We're kind of living in this perpetual state of distraction and interruption.
Which is dangerous because...
That mode of thinking crowds out the more contemplative, calmer modes of thinking.
And that focused, calm thinking is actually how we learn. It's a process called memory consolidation.
And that means the transfer of information from our short-term working memory to our long-term memory. And it's through moving information from your working memory to your long-term memory that you create connections between that information and everything else you know.
So you've got this awesome, life-changing piece of information in your short-term memory, but then you hear that email ding, and—poof!—there it goes! That email takes its place, and you never get a chance to learn anything—all because of one distraction.
So, attention is the key. And if we lose control of our attention, or are constantly dividing our attention, then we don't really enjoy that consolidation process.
But I can hear it now, someone out there is saying, "Uh, what does learning matter if all the information in the world is just a Google search away?" Well...
但我現在可以聽到，有人在那說：「呃...如果世界上所有資訊只要用 Google 搜尋一下就找得到，那學習有什麼重要？」 這個嘛...
Um, that is kind of shortchanging our intellects. If that's the way you're using your mind, just kind of searching very quickly and finding information and then forgetting it very quickly, you're never building knowledge. You're simply—you're kind of thinking like a computer.
Which means that our very humanity is at stake. And it would be a shame if we all got assimilated because, well, humanity is pretty neat.
I really believe that if you look at the great monuments of culture, they come from people who are able to pay attention, who control their mind—that's what allows us to think in the highest terms and think conceptually, think critically, think in some very creative ways.
And it's this kind of thinking that's at risk, being eroded one cute cat video at a time. Don't get us wrong, the Internet is good for lots of things and it should be celebrated, but the best thing we can do for our minds is to find some time every day to unplug, calm down, and focus on one thing at a time. Your email and those cats will be here when you get back.