In the last 190 years, our speed of information travel has undeniably evolved. “Until the 1840’s, information could move only as fast as a human being could carry it,” (Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death) meaning it moved only as fast as our quickest means of transportation: the train. I just did a Google search for the word “Postman” and got about 10 million results in .12 seconds.
The advances we’ve made in less than two centuries are astounding, and our rate of progress is increasing exponentially. But can our hunger for information ever be sated?
With each new internet development, we apparently become more and more enthralled with its content and abilities. “By 2009, adults in North America were spending an average of twelve hours online a week, double the average of 2005… For younger adults, the figure is higher still, with people in their twenties spending more than nineteen hours a week online” (Carr, The Shallows). Though connection speeds have vastly improved since even 2005, we continue to find more reasons to get, and stay, online. “Thanks to our ever-present messaging systems and devices, we ‘never really have to disconnect,’ says Danah Boyd, a social scientist who works for Microsoft” (Carr, The Shallows). While I have to agree with this statement, it makes me wonder if we forget that we have the ability to disconnect ourselves. Sometimes I feel so caught up in the availability of information and virtual social interaction that I lose large amounts of time simply searching and scrolling (many times for no apparent reason). By keeping ourselves continuously connected to the online world, are we disconnecting ourselves from the physical world around us? I’d be interested to see research about the evolution of interpersonal relationships (in real life) as the online experience has proliferated.