Do you ever ask a question, and instead of looking it up in a book, you get told, “Google it.”? I definitely have, and this idea is expressed in “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” by Nicholas Carr. The article informs readers by delving into how technology is negatively affecting people’s ways of thinking. Carr is an American author who has had published both books and articles regarding technology. In the Atlantic Monthly article entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Carr delves into how he sees change as loss rather than gain and how technology is a distraction in day-to-day life.
The Internet is a resource society may use for nearly anything. As a result, people are becoming more dependent on the Internet for answers to questions rather than other resources, such as books regarding a particular subject. Whereas with Google, one can type in a keyword of question, and hundreds of resources would pop up. The academic system, such as students and professors express similar concerns as Carr.
The author voices this by addressing the basic academic skill of reading, he is assuming that the capability of reading is beginning to deteriorate. Nicholas Carr states, “I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strangely when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches or prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do.
I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle” (Carr, 589). He is implying that it is difficult to concentrate while reading a novel or extensive article. This change is because of the time he spends on the Internet, it is affecting his attentiveness as a writer. After reading a few pages, the mind begins to drift off, think about things other than the text in front of the individual.
The Internet has invaded people’s attention spans as well as it being the start of nearly every variety of work. It has also modified people as readers, meaning instead of deeply engaging in an extended text, they are finding it more difficult to concentrate and fully analyze the material in front of them. The Internet has converted society’s reading techniques from being “deeply engaging” to “skimming,” more people are accessing brief excerpts of a text, articles, or blogs to receive and retain information.
To exemplify, if a student is reading a novel for a class assignment and does not read the chapter, he or she will either skim said chapter or do a simple Google search of a synopsis of the text. Society’s brains do not think as deeply as when independent research was done. The text states, “They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site.
Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it” (Carr, 590). In addition, Carr states, “And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation” (Carr, 589). Nicholas Carr feels that the Internet is not doing him justice, he feels as though it is reprogramming him to have less intelligence. If a novel or lengthy article is read, one can take the time to physically read or annotate the text.
Now through using the Internet and other forms of technology information is not retained as it should, it goes in one ear and out the other as soon as what is looked up is found. It is not only Carr that has these troubles, modern society also does. People use the Internet so frequently that it affects people’s thought processes.
With modern technology search engines such as Google, it is engineered to become a search engine that is faster and more reliable than others. It can give hundreds upon thousands of answers at one’s fingertips within seconds. Google becomes more reliable to then find more information. The more the Internet outsmarts the human mind, the sooner it will become its superior. The dependability on the Internet does make sense, with its speed and giving a massive variety of resources.
People have become lazy, instead of researching any topic in a book, such as the dictionary or thesaurus for the definition or synonym of a particular term, they take their questions to Google, which is just a click away; it is the easier way. In addition, instead of using a computer, one can use their smartphone to not only look something up online, but also to access social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. The psychological effect that the internet gives off to the human brain can make it obsessed with utilizing the Internet. Although modern technology is useful, they can limit societal intelligence, considering the laziness people now have due to search engines and different types of software.
To exemplify, people rarely use physical maps to get from one place to another, they use a Global Positioning System (GPS) to get to their destination, not only with which directions to take, but also the quickest route to get from Point A to Point B. Society cannot live without technology and its perks. Technology as a whole makes information more accessible than ever, with internet access on cell phones, not to mention that it is also very convenient. The Internet can be accessed anywhere, at home, school, even on the road.
Social media also plays a role in technology, people use their phones to access social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram. Teenagers use these social networks to post pictures, give likes, and retweets. Because of teenagers being impressionable and their minds not being fully developed, they are always concerned of how people feel or think about them. They are concerned with how many likes they get on Instagram or Twitter, or how many people viewed their Snapchat stories.
Teenagers heavily depend on technology, they seek validation. With the amount of technology they use, teenagers ignore what is going on around them, such as physical conversations. When people use the Internet daily and it goes out, they feel a sort of withdrawal, as if they are experiencing a withdrawal from an addictive drug. In addition, people who find comfort and validation in social media networking can come in contact with cyberbullying or some sort of harassment that may result in one thinking less of their lives.
As a result of that, people may turn to depression or suicidal thoughts. In a film entitled “Cyberbully,” the main character begins to be bullied online on a social networking site and as a result of the buildup of cyberbullying and the feeling of isolation, she turned to trying to commit suicide, using various pills. Social media also has its perks, one being that they offer opportunity to reconnect with old friends or being able to freely exchange opinions, post pictures or hashtags in conversation regarding a particular topic. People also use social media to stay in the loop with current events, such as local or world news.
To conclude, Carr uses several examples to support his purpose, that being to inform his audience that while using the Internet and other forms of technology is useful, it can also have a negative impact upon the human brain. His usage of scenarios from his real life backed up his claims as well as factual information from developmental psychologist Maryanne Wolf. Society has become incredibly dependent on the Internet, as if it is some kind of narcotic drug. Whether people agree or disagree with Carr, technological change is occuring every day, causing additional distractions to the brain. As society becomes more dependent on computers, tablets, phones, and the Internet as a whole, societal intelligence will begin to flatline into the world of artificial intelligence.