If the internet is shaping our thinking, how long will it be until we can build ourselves? I understand that it must already be happening on an unconscious level- the ways we work, think, research and store information are not static so the way we think about them, work with them and perceive them must surely change as well. But is it possible for these changes to happen consciously, can we use the internet to shape our brains?
I think to a limited extent we already do, online support networks exist for people struggling with anything from weight loss to parenting to mental illness. But I wonder if complete immersion can lead to a complete rewrite of some part of a person’s personality and the online phenomenon that prompts this question are the pro-ana and pro-mia movements that exist in spaces such as Tumblr as well as on their own forums. With enough immersion in the kinds of thought patterns and behaviours you want to take on, using “thinspo” and harsh derisions to trigger certain thinking patterns and help force yourself to maintain behaviours, and accessing online and offline connections to others who will support and encourage you, is it actually possible to rewrite part of your personality even if, in this case at least, it’s fundamental to survival? How can we avoid changing in the face of such a thorough structure that has been designed to shape us another way?
Can this be applied to other traits? If so, would it one day become mainstream and the day come that we will be able to build our own personalities and design the person we want to become? Countless books have featured to a greater or lesser extent the idea of body modifications- Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series springs most prominently to my mind- and many look at often involuntary or uninformed mind manipulation with futuristic technology. But do we have that technology here already? Could personality become cosmetic? Will it one day be possible to match up your mental ideal of a person with the person you are with a few clicks? How far can the internet take us?
The internet makes you think you’re smarter than you are: An interview about a study looking at people’s confidence in their own knowledge.
Searching for the Google Effect on people’s memory: Looks at a series of experiments relating to the way participants handled information and their reliance on the outside sources to help recall it.
Pro-Anorexia websites- the thin web line: A discussion on the impact of pro-ana/pro-mia sites on people with eating disorders.
Uglies: “Uglies is set in a world in which everyone has an operation when they turn sixteen, making them supermodel beautiful.”