The Internet is changing the fashion in which people receive, process and produce information. The Internet has shortened the length of human concentration when reading. The more people use the internet, the more they find it difficult to concentrate while deep reading. The overlapping content on the Internet scatters our attention & diffuses our concentration.
Usage of the Internet has caused a decrease in our ability to process thoughts. Regular use of the Internet turns us into “mere decoders of information” that are more focused on efficiency and immediacy when reading to collect information. We are unable to interpret and extract meaning from the information the internet gives us because our style of reading has changed from deep reading to skimming. Habitual usage of the Internet has rewired the physical brain to adapt to the solution-oriented mode promoted by the Internet.
Traditional media is shortening and simplifying their information to emulate the way the internet is presented on the Internet.
Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” has sparked an Internet sensation that only seems to be growing since its publication in the summer of 2008. In the article, Carr discusses many of his concerns about what the Internet is inevitably doing to our brains. To Carr, it seems as though the dangers of the Internet could possibly outweigh its benefits, especially if those dangers turn us into nothing more than some sort of artificial intelligence.
Putting pop culture aside, in the last decade alone we have seen tremendous advances in science, medicine and in the technological field. How would Carr explain this phenomenon? That during the same decade that the internet has grown, human beings have been able to solve so many of their problems and come up with astounding discoveries that, literally, has changed the way we live. Without being able to make rich mental connections and thoroughly process our thoughts would we have been able to create tiny cell phones that have a myriad of functions, come up with a drug that has shown signs of reducing skin cancer, or craft a robot that looks just as real as a living breathing human being. I would think not. Yes, I agree that some people today are just bordering on the essence stupidity (but is that really the fault of the internet?) but I also believe that the internet has made it possible for ideas to spread more easily and efficiently.
Next, Carr goes on to say that along with our thinking capabilities, our physical brain is also being changed by the internet. He says that he senses something “remapping the neural circuitry” of his brain and that we can expect that the “circuits woven by our use of the Net will be different from those woven by our reading of books and other printed works. On this point, I rather agree with Carr. It has been scientifically proven that our brains are indeed malleable. When we are born the neurons in our brains are very well connected to every other neuron. This facilitates our introduction to the world. As we grow older our neurons start breaking off some connections to strengthen others.
Also, the medical community is now accepting the fact that we can program our brains. For years doctors have cautioned us of the dangers of stress. Negative thoughts, anxiety, stress basically, could lead to stroke, stomach problems, heart problems and on, and on. Now doctors are realizing that the same is true with positive thoughts, laughter. They are now advising cancer patients to laugh more and take things a little more lightly and astoundingly many people who follow this advice have a better chance of fighting the disease. Psychologists are also looking into the area of positive reinforcements.
Another issue that has worried Carr is the effect the Internet is having on our culture. In his article, he states “The Net’s influence doesn’t end at the edges of a computer screen either”. Quoting Richard Forman, Carr is afraid that we’re becoming “pancake people” stretched thin by the vastness of information now available to us with a simple click. I agree that the Internet, like all other technological advances, is changing our culture. I do not, however, share his concern. Take for example what the invention of the printed press or the block printing device created years before that, did to society at its birth. In the 1300’s, the creation of books was mainly executed by churches in Europe. A selected number of nuns trained for years to serve in the scriptorium, so with the spread of the block printing device many became forlorn at the idea that ‘most everybody could create what their skilled hands took years to practice.
I think Carr tried to put up a good defense for his claims, but in all honesty, his story seems to be like a sieve full of holes. Moreover, the people that he introduced in his article make up only a small population and that is hardly enough to account for behaviors and habits of humanity as a whole. Further, Carr seems to be disregarding all the other possible explanations as to why we are the way we are. What we have to keep in mind is that the internet is modeled after our thoughts. It is a human invention created out of human needs and wants. It was shaped by our culture, and so it really isn’t so much that the Internet has changed us but more that it has accentuated what we already were. For this reason, I find myself disagreeing with most of what Carr says in his article. In the end, the Internet is only a tool to further society, and like any other tool, it is how we choose to use it that will determine its benefits or deficiencies.