These were my initial thoughts when I saw Nicholas Carr’s article entitled “Is Google making us stupid?”:
Sounds interesting. *click* Dumb picture. 7 pages?! I don’t wanna’ read 7 pages! I should just pick a different article. Well, maybe I’ll read the first paragraph…
These thought just go to prove that Nicholas Carr is right when he says that the internet is shortening our attention spans and changing the way we think. I just want to start by saying i thought this article was extremely well written and I agree with many of Carr’s thoughts. As a matter of fact, since this class began this has been a topic I have been thinking about quite a bit. I have been wondering why I have lost interest in reading, why I don’t particularly enjoy long-winded phone conversations. Is it because the internet has programmed my brain the desire short and efficient twitter-sized pieces of information?
Carr immediately confirms all of my fears. I can also feel it. I can feel my mind changing. I also stay away from long articles and books when just a couple years ago I felt lost without a good book in my possession. I have replaced journaling with blogging. I’m easily distracted and always hungry for more information. If I do happen to pick up a book I find myself Googling some new word or historical reference because, well, I simply must know!
In Carr’s article he cites Marshall McLuhan as pointing out that “media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought.” What a profound statement to reflect on. We saw how we, as a people, began to think with the invention of the typewriter, again with TV, and now with the internet. Carr then goes on to sum up the main concern: “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.” Is there no more stream of organic consciousness as the internet feeds a constant and seemingly endless flow of information; information that is useful and sometimes useless, stuff that is true and stuff that is false. Did we as a population lose the power to think for ourselves? To form deep and meaningful independent thought streams?
I know that I have regretfully watched myself put efficiency and immediacy above all else. The article argues that this type of mind set has turned us from thinker to decoder. Information is always accessible with the click of a button, all we need to do now is understand it. This is not to say that the internet and digital literacy is all evil, but the thought of Google creating an artificial intelligence is frightening. When does the robot overpower the human in this story? When do the roles reverse?
“If we lose those quiet spaces, or fill them up with ‘content,’ we will sacrifice something important not only in ourselves but also in our culture,” according to Carr. So the important question we need to ask ourselves is “what are we sacrificing and is it worth it?” Will the advancement and intelligence of a search engine make us a better community of human beings?
With the average American spending 32 hours a month online this is quickly becoming a very important question to ask. The amount of time spent online will likely grow, but if it remains the same, the average American will have spent 16 DAYS online in a year and 160 DAYS throughout the course of 10 years.
How is the internet changing the way you think on a daily basis?