Getting Distracted Online Is Good for Humanity

We're all part of a burgeoning superorganism
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2010 1:30 PM CDT
We're all just a piece of a larger puzzle, thanks to our new connective technology.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Don’t worry if you can’t make it through these two paragraphs without checking your email in another tab. There are plenty of doomsayers warning that the Internet is rotting our brains and ruining our ability to concentrate, but they’re missing the point, writes Robert Wright in the New York Times. “Maybe the essential thing about technological evolution is that it’s not about us,” he writes. “I personally don’t think it’s outlandish to talk about us being, increasingly, neurons in a giant superorganism.”

While online we may feel like scatterbrains, but “the scattering of attention among lots of tasks is what allows us to add value to lots of social endeavors.” We’re being drawn away from the people around us, but towards even bigger social groups online. Maybe, he theorizes, the point of evolution is to create a species with the social and technological intelligence to weave itself “into a giant, loosely organized planetary brain. … Kind of the way the point of the maturation of an organism is to create an adult.”

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