Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is The Internetz Making Us Stoopid?

A little background information on this post:

Today, during my Mass Communications and Society class, I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Nicholas Carr, the author of an article titled "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" and a related book titled The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.
You can read the article by clicking its title, although it's a long read it's VERY interesting and thought provoking. I'd recommend it if you have the time. I'd even recommend reading a few snippets if you don't.

Having the opportunity to chat it up with this guy was out right incredible. He is the leading researcher behind what scientists think the internet is doing to the way we think; which is basically making us less cognitive thinkers.

If you don't have the chance to read the article, it isn't a stab at Google in any way. It isn't even a stab at the internet. It just describes how the internet, Google included, is reshaping our minds.

Okay! Now to get down to the bulk of the post.

While speaking with Nicholas Carr(if you don't know who he is, shame on you for starting to read this post at the red text) he provided me some great insight into how he really thinks the internet and new technology in general is reshaping our minds.

First, he started off with a bomb ass metaphor:

"It's like no one is a full blown scuba diver anymore, we all just kick back and snorkel in the shallows."

Meaning that we don't dig deep for information because everything we think we need to know or want to find is just floating around.

Second, I'm not going to go into great detail about what we talked about, because it's too much. But he left me with this quote.

"The internet, mass social networking, smartphones, etc all fragment our attention span. Rarely do I ever give a lecture where more than half the audience is fully paying attention to what I'm saying. They're either on their phone or computer, linking themselves into the virtual world. Statistics show that while in the office, workers refresh their email 50-60 times an hour or check twitter every few minutes. We can't stand not knowing what's going on."

and, quite possibly the most thought provoking quote of the interview:

"This poses a problem because people don't have time to full on think anymore, we don't challenge our own mind with deep thinking. We're never alone with our thoughts. Before we had the internet in the palm of our hands, we were forced to store more information and develop deeper connections and thoughts. Now, we retain only a fraction of what we're capable of because we're either not paying attention, or know we can just Google it later."

Let me know what you think:
1. Do you think that the internet affects the way that we think?
2. Do you think that we rely too much on being able to "google' things?
3. How often do you check your twitter/facebook/email/text messages during the day?
4. Any other input?


AJ said...

1. Yes, but not in a bad way.
2. No, I think decentralizing the information from the brain is a good thing, until we can unlock the powers of our brain with drugs.
3. I mentioned this before I think... Too often.
4. I think it really boils down to personal opinion. Some people think it's bad, some good. I quite like google and wikipedia, it helps me be more relaxed because I don't have to remember as much.

Jennifer Black said...

1. Yes, But its not permanent damage.
2. yes, by using google and having information piped into us the left half of our brains is being neglected.
3. maybe 2 or 3 times
4. I think that perhaps this is having a negative effect on half of society, the less intelligent are enjoying the ease at which they can now do things, while the more intelligent are provided the opportunity to question and challenge alot more things in a much wider field.

mac-and-me said...

1. yes
2. yes
3. since i get notifications on new email i dont check em myself at all
4. the future is now

elexerdelex said...

The internet is the superconciousness of humanity! It helps us be one superorganism! Its a good thing to have :)

Is this Carr, related to Jimmy Carr?

psyke said...

1. yes
2. no
3. about 3 times/day
4. if google falls/goes evil there are alternatives out already

skinned sheep said...

eh we had a good run.

Mr Duke said...

Very thought provoking stuff, and as a Comm Major I find this very interesting. I think the situation was inevitable because if you think of times before the internet TV was doing it's thing by brain numbing the masses.

1. I think it very much effects the way we think. It's going to have to be integrated somehow with how people learn because it's not going away.
2. Yes
3. A lot. I need to feel connected somehow to the social network.

Danny Murphy said...

Good post mate, I've been thinking about this a lot recently.

1. Yeah no doubt but all technology changes the way we think.

2. Not really, I remember a few years back that if you or the people around didn't know the answer to something you might never find out, now your answer is 30 seconds away.

3. About two or three times a day.

Triper said...

All in all you got good point of view, but in this case, we can choose between wisdom and stupid infos. I think internet don't make us stupid people :)

BORIS said...

1. Yes
2. Yes
3. 2 minutes

freddieblue1 said...

it depends what you use the internet for, interesting post!

SOMS said...

1. i do
2. maybe a little but it is also a new powerful tool
3. alot
4. i have his book but it is on a pile of other books i still have to read...

NHM said...

1. surely
2. completely
3. almost continuously

Pentele said...

Maybe we're more dependable on internet but is that a bad thing since all the info is for us to get?

Tony Storm said...

1. of course, internet is information, information turns into knowledge, knowledge changes the way we see life
2. maybe, i cant remmember how what i did to find things before google existed
3. not that often, im not that into social networks such as twitter, i have a FB profile tho and i hardly even use E-mail anymore
4. as for the main question of the post, it depends, like i said before internet turns into information, and is up to us to know what kind of information to seek and retain in our minds, we could learns about stupid things and turn stupid ourselves, but it also works the other way around

Anthony C said...

The internet is a double-edged sword. It has the capacity to make us much more intelligent if we use the internet to our benefit. But if we use it as a distraction or a diversion, it will make us stupid and only smart with trivia or pop culture references.

Joe said...

1. Very much so. I think that the internet is speeding up social interaction and throwing our society out of whack
2. definitely. I can't really remember a time when we just didn't know information and were ok with that
3. Every 2 hours ._.
4. check out . The author did a funny comic about how horrible his handwriting has become since discovering the internet

doomsday said...

1 - absolutely
2 - nope
3 - all the time, really!
4 - nothing :)

Megan Hansen said...

of course it is!

1) yes
2) yes
3) pretty rarely actually, i don't use facebook or twitter and i like calls over texts
4) i think you're right, but no one is going to change until something dramatic happens that proves it's a bad way to go and gets a lot of publicity

subrand0m said...

1. Oh yea
2. Nope do things the easy way
3. iPhone, so ummmmm I dont even know
4. Nope, awesome post

Patres said...

Oh man... and what about those that were stupid BEFORE the interwebs came along?
Spaghetti Monster save us.

Aureal said...

The internet is having a devastating effect on the average intelligence of people today. It is not a negative one. We have the ability to be better informed because things are so readily available to us, not in spite of it.

Daan said...

1. I'm sure about this
2. Yes, whithout Google we would be nowhere, well, there are other search engines
3. too much
4. Internet is the future

cool_cicler said...

ME cannot articulate what trying to write. Stupid me must be.

Tibble said...

1. Yes becuase more information is available
2. Not at all, its useful to be able to use google to find things out and I will often do that
3. Text all day
4. Internet is the future, its a map of the human condition

PIX said...


I follow you! can you return the favour? :-)

Navi said...

1. yes, not sure if it is a negative or positive way though
2. No all google did was streamline a library so it was faster and more effecient
3. Facebook-whenever im on my computer so like 30 times a day text/email- both on my iphone so every 10min or so, unless it rings first
4. i like long strolls on the beach
+1 follower

benchmark said...

The internet is a tool like any other - it can be used well, or abused. There are still people who dig deep, just like 20 years ago there were people who went to libraries and did actual research. The only difference is today the tools are different.

Merkin said...

1. Yes, in a positive way.
2. Yes, but is the availability of information such a bad thing?
3. All of my emails get pushed to my phone, so I only go there for fun times..

Shelby Fox said...

1) Yes, definitely making us stupider.
2) Yes, I use google all the time to research projects. way easier than thinking of my own thesis out of the blue. Not saying I copy others, but it definitely helps guide my thinking.
3) I have igoogle as my homepage, so everytime I open my browser, I check it. Easily 60 times a day.

Jim said...

There are some powerful sites out there. Some places have little to no rules and allow people to truly express their own opinions. While the internet may bring up lazy habits, it is a very particular medium of knowledge.

Ano said...

1. Yes
2. Absolutely, if google disappears, it is certainly a couple of similar sites that try to take that position
3. every 15 minute

JuX said...

1. Yes. our way of learning is different, it incorporates more tech these days.
2. Of course. Although it is extremely helpful, it is also good to read a book once in a while.
3. I check messages when i get them, rarely check twitter/email and go on facebook maybe twice a week, if that.

Claude said...

1. Yes, everybody now days who spends too much time on the internet really does think differently from others.
2. Certainly, google it, is now an extremely commonly used phrase, it's getting out of hand.
3. I usually check once per day but if I'm communicating with somebody or receive a message it's way more.
4. Although the internet is changing our ways, I really don't think its for the worse, conversely it's for the better, we're evolving!

Brock said...

1. Without a doubt, it has such a big part in our lives it definitely changes the way we thing
2. Again, Yes. Google holds a lot of power.
3. Oh man, I don't wanna answer this one, hahaha
4. Great article, I'll definitely be following you to see what else you come out with.

Insider33 said...

1. It has changed the way our society works
2. Not really
3. Not often
4. I think that internet has made me lazy and less productive

mir s said...

brain is suppose to do different jobs. one of it is to store and annalise information.
Other job is the thinking and taking dicissions
if google or net or any gadget dose the partial work of storage and annalising our brain should do the remaining job more efficiently.

ExoticBlogger said...

Well i just think it's all how you use it. Personally, I use it as a resource to my advantage for researching and recreational use. Although I do think society do rely too much on social media and that is a negative, people need to go outside more.

Clueless Dolphin said...

1. absolutely, we learn new things!
2. oh yeah, greatest tool ever though
3. probably once a week... blog is the only thing i do daily

pezasied said...

1. Yes
2. Yes.
3. All the time because of my phone
4. I do love the internet, it gave us blogger

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