Two thousand years ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca said that

“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”[2]

Seneca might have predicted then our state while surfing the web. Though the web allows us to be in every book, in every country, in every newspaper, in every film, in every song we never really feel that we have reached one specific place. It’s like someone texting while eating lunch, watching a game and writing a paper all at the same time. One would be everywhere and nowhere specifically. The web constantly puts us in the very same position; we’re checking our email while shopping online, checking friends’ updates on Facebook and checking out that new iPhone commercial on Youtube and of course occasionally adding a paragraph or two to that paper that’s due the next day. We’re doing all those things but at the same time, we’re doing none. This could have many implications about the effect of the internet on our neuroplastic brains, how the web is shaping our learning behaviors and reading habits and the risks of power browsing.

“Because of the way the Internet works, once you become visible, you’re approached from left and right by people wanting to have interactions in ways that are extremely time-consuming.”[1]

says David Meyer, an expert on Multitasking. Formerly, we used to be reached by mail letters, then by telephones, then by cell phones, then by emails, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, BBM, IM, Skype and msn messenger all willing us to multitask. We are always connected, even when in a room alone, we’re never really alone until we pull the cable.

“If Einstein were alive today, he’d probably be forced to multitask so relentlessly in the Swiss patent office that he’d never get a chance to work out the theory of relativity.”[1]

Meyer adds.


“When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking and superficial learning.”[2]

said Carr while summing up findings of psychologists, neurobiologists, educators and web designers about the effect of the internet on focused learning. James Boswell once said,

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it.”[2]

Many people seem to think that the internet is promoting the later kind of knowledge by scattering our focus and providing bits and pieces. The multiple sources of information provision is giving us the exigency to multitask in order to keep up. Does this mean that the no benefits can come out of this multitasking which surfing the web seems to be forcing us to do? Does this mean that the web is only deteriorating our learning processes?

1. Anderson, Sam. "In Defense of Distraction." New York Magazine. 17 May 2009. Web. 27 May 2011. <>.
2. Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print.

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