In today’s day and age, accessing information is quite literally just a couple clicks away. Research that would have taken days to just access can be found in under a minute. In Is Google Making Us Stupid?, the author, Nicholas Carr, discusses how our reliance on tools such as Google has increased so much that it might actually be making us dumber.
I agree with Carr on the fact that the internet has most definitely changed the way we think. We have been rewired to become increasingly reliant on technology. As one can see, our ability to read beyond the surface has changed. Today, we find it harder for us to read for longer periods of time and think critically. Michael Friedman, a pathologist at the University of Michigan Medical School admitted that he has lost the ability to read “even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs”.
This shows us that this conflict is widespread and very relatable. As previously stated, the problem is due to our increasing reliability on the internet for answers to any question that comes to mind. The author discusses how he feels as if “the net is becoming a universal medium, a conduit for most of the information that flows through his eyes and ears and into his head”. This feeling is definitely something that I can relate to. Considering the amount of information that is available to us within a few clicks, it is all too much for our brains to process. This surplus is causing our style of reading to change. As Maryanne Wolf, a developmental scientist, puts it, it is “a style of reading that puts efficiency and immediacy above all else”. When something that is a little longer is presented to us, we stay focused for the first couple pages or so, but afterwards we start to do something called skimming. This process leads us to look over and find the main ideas that stick out to us and quickly move through it. The author illustrates this developing habit through an analogy comparing him to “a scuba diver in the sea of words.” Instead of understanding the information at hand, he now “zips along the surface like a guy on a jet ski”. This habit of skimming through negatively impacts our ability to make connections and really understand the information at hand. When skimming through information, one is not able to actually understand the purpose of the writing but instead they are looking through for “quick facts” that pertain to the information that they are searching for. Coupled with the change in our style of reading, our reliance on technology to get fast and easy information is increased. Our brains are “almost infinitely malleable”. Essentially, Carr implies that we have the power to control how we think. We can get ourselves used to the fact that information is readily available to us and form a habit of skimming for information. However, if we want to preserve our ability to think deeper than the surface and make connections to what is being read, then we have the capability to do that as well.
To illustrate this thinking, the author uses the invention of the clock. Prior to the common use of the clock, individuals were guided by their senses as to when to do certain things throughout the day. The clock brought structure and stability into our lives. After the use of the clock became more widespread, “people would listen to the clock in deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, and to rise”. In today’s time, individuals who use the clock on a daily basis simply cannot imagine life without it. They wouldn’t know when to do anything because the structure of their daily lives relies on the clock. However, individuals around the world who don’t use the clock, preserved their ability to have structure in their lives without this time telling device. Similarly, our reliance on the internet for the answer to our every question is increasing. If we do not work to reserve our ability to analyze information correctly, it appears as though we may end up becoming completely reliant on technology for any knowledge. In the article itself, Carr uses many examples from different sources. These sources include Maryanne Wolf, a developmental scientist at Tufts University, Joseph Weizenbaum, a late MIT computer scientist that published his own book in 1976, and various studies including one conducted by scholars from University College London. All of these individuals have acquired immense knowledge on the neurological changes that are addressed in this article. These various sources increase Carr’s credibility. Upon examining these sources, the reader is given a sense of security because the individuals featured are experts in their individual fields of study. In addition, the author uses a very relaxed tone to express his findings which appeals to most readers. The article explains its points effectively without being too overly complicated which helps the reader to understand the authors viewpoint.
While reading over this article, I found the easy comprehension made it much more appealing to read. To conclude, the internet is impacting the way we think. Our ability to think deeper than the surface is suffering due to our increasing dependability that we are forming on search engines such as Google. The ease of finding information has significantly changed the way we think and if something isn’t done about it very soon, then we deal with the risk of losing the ability to understand information all together.