S01E48 – What the Internet is Doing to Your Mind

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Muslim Life Hackers

Channel: Muslim Life Hackers

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Episode Notes

Do you love the internet but have troubles reading a book? learning? concentrating? In this episode, Mifrah speaks about what the Internet is Doing to Your Mind based on the book ‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr.

Episode Transcript

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Episode 48. Maybe it is that by establishing this kind of mind, can it set the path for positive change and revolutions in society? Welcome to the Muslim life hackers podcast, the weekly podcast providing you with tips and tricks on how to hack your life and maximize its potential. And now for your hosts Mithra maroof and maheen. Molly, as we said, the crisis see

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Assalamu alaikum Muslim life hackers, welcome to the 48th episode of the Muslim life hackers podcast. My name is Mr. America, and I'll be your host for today. In this podcast, I'm going to be speaking to you about what the internet is doing to your mind. That's right. There's some crazy stuff happening and I'm sure you've been feeling it. So this podcast, I'm going to try to shed some light on this topic. This episode is actually based on a book called The Shallows how the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember, and it's by an American journalist, named Nicholas g car. And you can find a link to this book in our show notes, which can be found that Muslim life

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hackers.com slash 48. That's the number 48. Okay, so let's get into this. Let me start off with a story, a story about the brain summit. Now, the brain summit doesn't actually appear in the book. But here it goes.

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There was an important meeting called the brain summit happening in which all people from all walks of life with different expertise and knowledge, get together to solve problems, produce insights and useful discoveries. The braid summit wasn't like any other summit, because everyone was invited, and there was no limit placed on the attendees. So you see, the better the quality of the attendees, the better impact that some brought. So pretty much if you had useful knowledge, such as the cure to cancer, then that was great. But if you had very trivial information, like the statistics of a sports match, then that wasn't so great. So the day of the brain summit came in, it was happening on

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the fifth floor of the building. And fortunately, the stairs were closed off. And the only way to get to that level was through a small lift that only fit one person at a time. And to make things worse, the waiting area for the lift was very small. So many people wanted to attend the brain summit. And so the waiting area for the elevator was getting really crowded, during the door into the building was wide open. So you know, everyone walked in, including the sports statistics guy. And what happened was for like, people were pushing and shoving and no one was lining up. And some people just put up with it. And other people just had it. They're like, I don't want this whole

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brain summit thing. And they decided to walk out, walk out of the building, ditch the whole brains of it. And the sad thing was, I was at some of the people who walked up, they could have been valuable assets to the brain summit, such as you know, the man who knew the cure to cancer. But, you know, he walked out, people like he walked out never to be seen again. So it was a complete chaos. And you can call it an information overload. You know, like, lots of people with information. But yeah, so anyway,

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if the organizers had just implemented a few crowd control procedures, then this could have been avoided by for example, things like closing the building door, and filtering the people before they enter so that only the people with useful knowledge can enter and then making sure that they are only allowed to enter once their space in the elevator waiting area. So not just you know, unnecessarily letting everyone in, but you know, having some crowd control procedures in place. And so that was the end of the brain summit story. Let's just say that it didn't go too well that year.

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Okay, so let's get back to our podcast, I will come back to the brain summit later. So in the book, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, he explains how the internet has changed our ability to think read and learn. So whenever a new medium was introduced, in order to make our lives easier, it had an effect on us. So like, the book starts off, and he says, How are he he started explaining different things and how when they were introduced, they affected the way we live life, pretty much. So for example, when the watch came about, the wristwatch came about and we were we always had access to time, our scientific mind strengthen and we wanted to measure everything. We also became more tired

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because we started to rely on a set time as opposed to our natural bodily functions. Another example he gave was that of the printing press. After the printing press came about and books became more widespread. It nurtured a calm, focused, undistracted mind that was able to engage in deep thinking, and as a result, credits or Association and ideas. And Nicholas actually mentioned this type of literary mind as being

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The center of art, science and society. And he says that it's been the imaginative mind of the Renaissance, the rational mind of the enlightenment and invented mind of the Industrial Revolution. And then he goes to say that it may be soon yesterday's mind, which, you know, everyone have their own opinion on that. But besides that, what I actually found very amazing from this particular point is how our religion speaks about believers. And it speaks about believers to be those of people who are sorry, speaks of believers to be those who are people of thought, people who think people who ponder, and not just that, the first word to be revealed in the Quran was equal meaning read. So

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maybe it is that by establishing this kind of mind, can it set the path for positive change and revolutions in society, that's food for thought. So anyway, this goes back to the brain plasticity, and it changes according to how we use it. So when we use one part of foot more than the other, then that part we use becomes stronger, and the one we don't use just weakens. So for example, let's look at the way we use our body. If we were training with weights, and we keep increasing it, then we'll only find ourselves getting stronger. And now, our ability to carry heavier, heavy objects would, you will become better. Whereas if we do not use our muscles, then what would happen is that just to

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like carry a heavy shopping bag, really hurt ourselves. So pretty much and straightforward. You either use it or lose it. And first of all, we need to exactly see how the internet works, and what behavior it encourages for us to find out what effect it has on us. So generally, when we log on to the internet, we're encouraged to collect as much information as possible, regardless of its worth. So that information can be a piece of information from the Facebook notification, the latest tweet, that email and every time we do, we are rewarded for it. And the way we are rewarded for it is that we get a sense of satisfaction because we find out what that notification was about, we also find

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out what the tweet was about, and what that email said. Now, the thing is, when we're constantly rewarded for our actions, we want to keep doing it similarly teach. Similarly how like to how an addiction works, because the reward triggers a hormone that makes us feel good. And so when that happens, we just want more of it. So Nicholas describes this behavior as quote, lab rats, constantly pressing levers to get pellets of social and intellectual nourishments. Now, one of the things that internet doesn't encourage us to do, we stop and process the information. And it keeps showing us the next piece followed by the next piece, no matter how trivial it is, and we just get carried

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away, like we just Surf along the Internet, and just, you know, consumed things in a very shallow way. But on another side, so the internet does have its good. And the good news with regards to the way our minds work is that it has led to a widespread and sophisticated development of our visual spatial skills. So what I mean by that is that we're able to rotate objects inside our minds better than we were able to before. And what has weakened, unfortunately, is our capacity to deep processing, and deep thinking, which is actually the cause of things such as critical thinking, reflection and imagination, and what really makes up a society and culture rich as it is. So what

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does that exactly mean?

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Well, for one thing, we become shallow in our thinking, you see, we become good at hunting for information, but we're not so good at internalizing that information, and coming up with our own ideas and insights as a result of it. Another effect is that we are constantly interrupted. And actually we look forward to each interruption, since it brings a new piece of information. And you know, we get rewarded for that. But however, in the real world, you see, the world that we live in, this doesn't really help us.

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What we find ourselves is that, you know, we have trouble sitting still in a lecture. We have troubles reading our textbooks, we have trouble studying, we have troubles concentrating, or even listening to the person talking to us without looking here looking for a reference, or even at our mobile phones. And you see, the way we behave in life is a reflection of the way we behave online. Because after all, you're using the same mind in both of them. And we do spend a large portion of our time surfing online, whether it be you know, on our phones or even on our laptops.

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Now the second thing is what about learning how does internet affect our ability to learn? Now this is where the story of the brain summit

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can be understood. You see, the brain summit just explained the memory consolidation process, meaning the way we learn things. So what happens that in order for us to really learn something, we need to make sure that information makes it to our long term memory, ie the brain summit. And once it gets there Can it may connection with other information that we've learned, and you know, as a result of, you know, all those other information mingling together, you can take out amazing insights and, you know, great things that come out of a person really. But first, for that to happen, that information needs to interact short term memory, and then make its way to the long term

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memory, there is no like Express flight or something, there's a procedure that has to be followed. And unlike the long term memory, short term memory can only hold a very small amount at a time, like I'm talking about, like three to four pieces of information at a time. So from that brainstorm that story, you see the elevator waiting area, the one person lived, this explains the short term memory, and the chaos that happened this year at the brain summit. Well, that my friends is our minds on internet. So you see, when you open up social media to learn things, to find all those feel good, or even boosting Islamic quotes. And then you know, you go on a liking screen and like, like, like,

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like, like, you might comment one saying, Whoa, that was deep. And then, you know, once you close the internet browser, you find it hard to just recall one amazing thing that you just read. I mean, I you It was amazing. I just don't remember what it is. So do you ever wonder why that happens? It's because our goal when we, when we were on the internet was to collect as much information as we can, because we kept getting rewarded for it. And

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the downside of that was that we were unable to internalize any of it. And you know, once we close the laptop, or computer, we just forgot what we just read. So pretty much you overloaded your short term memory that none of that made it to the long term memory, like none of that made it to the brain summit, the place where things happen, and amazing ideas and possibilities come out of.

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Okay, so now we covered all that, you know, all those sad things about the internet. But what can we do better? I mean, look, this is a question that I'm really interested in finding out, because you see, we can talk about the problems of the internet, like the problems of the oma. But if we don't have anything to action upon, then it all becomes talk than action. So what do we do? Do we cut up the internet and move to a farm? Do we go to a high building and throw our smartphones and laptops out the window? Or do we not care at all, then keep living life the way? It is right now? I mean, look, first of all, no, it doesn't have to be any of that. And by the way, I mean, I'm not sure why

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we have to be so OCD in our solutions as in 100% D, so 100%, that there's a valid way, there's a valid way, and I'm sure that we can get to some practical action points. I mean, first of all, you can't deny that the internet has brought about so many possibilities and good. For example, you're listening to this episode. And it was recorded. Okay, look, I'm here all the way in Australia, isolated away from us to the world. And I'm recording this episode into a sound device that I have here with me. But and you know, with the internet, you're able to listen to this episode somewhere in the world using a different type of technology. I mean, I can be in your ears, I can read your

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laptop, I can be in your car, which sounds bit freaky. But anyway. So you know, the internet actually has a lot of potential. So I'm not, you know, I'm not of that thing. When I call, you know, something or nothing, no, there is a way that there's a balanced approach that we can take. So tip number one is to read a book. Okay, so we love that deep thinking and the ability to sit still can be strengthened by reading a book. And I'm sure there are other ways to do this as well. But this book example, I want to make it really practical for you. What you can do is you can go to the library, you can pick up a really good book that you'll enjoy, looked at, pick up things like, you

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know, books that you should read, like the shallows or you know, something that, you know, you heard about, and you should read, because the thing is that it can get really technical. And I wouldn't be surprised if you don't even get past the next page, particularly for this book, The Shallows, pick up something that you want to read. I mean, unless you're an experienced reader, and you know, you're okay with reading more harder text and you can be able to get through it without falling asleep, then by all means, go for it. But the big difference is pick books that you want to read as opposed to what you should read. So it can be a fiction book. It can even be those thin books from

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the kids section of George feel bad. We all have to start somewhere. And it's better that you acknowledged that you can't

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seats do, then, you know, just try to pretend to yourself, I don't know. So you know, just sit down, spend like 10 minutes sitting still and reading every day and eventually work your way up to a timing that you'd like to aim for, for example, 30 minutes a day or one hour. And then from there, you can start to vary in your books and get into other types of books as well. And if you want to read an E book, then

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a lot of people have a lot to say about ebooks, but I'm, I'm still okay with the, you know, the Amazon e ink devices that actually look like paper, and he does have wireless, but in order to serve on the internet, he brings more headache than it is anything because it's just so bad. And he rather just sit and read a book. So it's, it's like it's called the Amazon Kindle e ink device so that that's the one that I have. But he said, if you have an iPad or an Android device or something, then I suggest that you completely turn off your Wi Fi, like not just you know, go to the settings and turn off Wi Fi, like actually go to the place where your Wi Fi devices and turn it off. But then

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again, if you do that, it might cause everyone to come out their home. Sorry, evey cause everyone to come out their rooms and war might break loose in your home. So exercise that precaution. The second tip is to disconnect. So have a portion of your day in which you disconnect, find out what works for you and be okay with having your internet disconnected, turn off your phone or do something that doesn't require being connected, sit outside, read, cook something, play something, bake a cake, something that's non internet related. So I'm sure you can figure that one out. Okay, the third tip is do not multitask. No matter what you do. Look, there's no such thing as multitasking. But I mean,

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what really happens is that you switch and you switch, and you switch, you know, you're either doing one thing or another.

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multitasking. I mean, it's it's another topic, and I know that he did a podcast about it. And you can find it in our podcast listener archives about how multitasking doesn't really work. So the third tip is pretty much don't multitask. And Nicholas actually mentioned that one of the reasons we are unable to take in what we've learned is because it's interrupted, we're not focusing on just one thing. And so as I was doing the research into creating this episode, I decided to try that what I along with like covering the book, or what I did was also listened to a few interviews by Nicholas on YouTube. And instead of browsing through email, and you know, doing other things, I decided to,

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okay, look, I'm gonna sit down, close everything, and just take notes, listen and take notes. So then after that, I avoided information overload by not, you know, going straight to social media or something where there's so much information, and I just like closed the laptop, and you know, went for a break. And honestly, I benefited tremendously. And I was able to grasp the knowledge very well that I was able to explain it the next day to my friends, of which I was I made up for like a lunch and stuff. So it was amazing. Like, I was really able to take it all in. So one thing that you want to remember is when you're learning, make sure it's uninterrupted, or else what will happen is a

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chaotic brain summit. So avoid that at all costs. Okay, so that actually ends off today's podcast. And I really hope that you've benefited from it. And I hope did justice to this book. And actually you don't want I don't think it did justice to this book, because this book has so many other things it speaks about on the topic of internet and our mind. So I do suggest you check it out. If you can't read the book, then check out the audiobook as well. And you can get through that. And again, the title you want to look for it's called the shallows by Nicholas Carr. And you can find a link to this book on our show notes at Islam life hackers.com slash 48. That's the number four. Okay, Muslim

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life hackers. Until next time, aim high take action and being so

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sweet.