Email is turning us into Rats

Say what you like about the hacks at the Daily Mail, they are quite happy to dust off the same metaphor for two different IT stories.

Yesterday it penned a yarn about how computer games were more addictive than crack. Citing a Panorama story it talked about how computer games mirrored Cold War tests which made rats addicted.

This morning it used those same tests to claim that we were all addicted to email and British civilisation was going to collapse under a wave of immigration (we made the last bit up, but you know where the Daily Mail is coming from).

However, it quotes Nicholas Carr, that well known psychologist and medical expert to back up its claim that the internet and an obsession with email is turning us into ‘lab rats’. Sorry, no it didn’t, it quoted Nicholas Carr, former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, because there is no better expert in such areas like a reporter for a business magazine.

Carr has written a book called The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, so we guess that makes him an expert, particularly when the Mail wants a reason to slag off the world wide wibble. That is where the rats come in.

Carr is quoted as saying that gadgets have turned us into hi-tech lab rats, mindlessly pressing levers in the hope of receiving a pellet of social or intellectual nourishment.

What makes digital messages all the more compelling is their uncertainty. There’s always the possibility that something important is waiting for us in our inbox which overwhelms our knowledge that most online missives are trivial, he said.

Carr’s warning is just the latest by experts who fear that the digital age may be having unseen consequences for our brain’s health, the Daily Mail wailed.

We guess it is time to ask the rat. After all those experiments how did he turn out?