Monday, 20 April 2015

My pre-internet brain

Probably the most resonant of the "21st century slogans" at the Douglas Coupland solo exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery is this one.

I miss my pre-internet brain.

Now, I imagine that my son (born 2000) would wonder what a pre-internet brain was, and having worked out that it was some sort of vestigial remain belonging to those born way back in the last century, would then question what on earth there was to miss about such a thing.

Douglas Coupland is now 52 and explains his nostalgia so: "I feel like I have willingly or unwillingly become a new person ...we've all been completely, neurologically rewired." Or so: "The internet has burrowed into my head and laid eggs, and it feels as though they're all hatching."

The re-wiring is fact, not just fancy, and it's estimated that 10,000 hours of exposure to a medium - say, the internet, is enough to rewire the neurones. That is less than 1.5 hours per day on the internet for the last 19 years, which I'm sure I must be approaching.

So, for the benefit of those millenials, what was a pre-internet brain like? While the internet brain is spontaneous and even a little flighty, the pre-internet brain was considered, ponderous, deliberate. The internet brain is agile, nimble and smart, but a touch superficial. The pre-internet brain had depth. The internet brain is extrovert, has all the answers. The pre-internet brain was an introvert, and knew that it didn't know.

Pre-internet: never forgets, faithful, with a questioning attitude.
Internet: easily distracted, faithless, demands instant gratification, credulous.

And finally, I have the feeling that my internet brain is transparent, a standard issue, and public property.

Whereas my pre-internet brain was mysterious, original and my own. Private. 


Barbara Fisher said...

Hello Sue, I’m still laughing about those last two sentences – and how right you are! My parents would be horrified if they could see just how much of my Internet brain is transparent and public property!

I spend at least seven hours of every day on the Internet and have done so for the last umpteen years, help!

Sue Imgrund said...

Yes, it's odd to think what's considered normal these days in terms of public property vs. even 10 years ago.

The encouraging thing is that we only use a small % of our brain (some more than others!) so I am sure there are still a few pre-internet neurones tucked away in yours!