Eric Schaeffer
Theater director

Eric Schaeffer

Co-founder and artistic director for Signature Theatre in Arlington, which won the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award for sustained artistic excellence.

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Brain dead

Q: We've got Blackberries. And iPhones and Droids and notebook computers and Google. They help make us more successful! Don't they?? The new book "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains" says the Internet impairs our ability to think long and hard. Do you agree? And if so, does the added productivity justify a little Internet-inspired attention-deficit disorder?

It took a while, but I finally gave in.

I kept saying to myself -- never to a blackberry or iPhone. The theatre business is crazy enough, with working long hard hours and no days off. The last thing I would ever do was give up my quiet time. That was until almost a year ago. I finally gave in and got an iPhone and my life changed instantly.

Suddenly almost 200 emails a day were being displayed on my phone. People had instant access to me and expected answers in rapid reply. I instantly regretted my loss of freedom and had to set new rules for myself. Rapid. Instant. Reply.

Suddenly, there was no sense of communication but quick answers to get it done. It was the loss of the communication between real people. And there is no doubt that the Internet totally impairs not only the idea of thinking but also the reality of actually having a conversation.

I totally miss someone just calling me and wanting to discuss a project or an idea. I now get an email in one sentence that says ... are you interested?

While there is no doubt that the Internet has made communication with the world simple and fast, it has also impaired the whole idea of communication. People can read between the lines because the tone is never clear in email. People make assumptions on all fronts. And the worst part is that I've fallen victim to it as well. I've found the only way to keep up is to keep the emails flying on my end as well. I may be going brain-dead like everyone else.

By Eric Schaeffer  |  July 22, 2010; 10:10 AM ET  | Category:  Technology and success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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