“The precursor to the Internet was jumpstarted in the early days of computing history, in 1969 with the U.S. Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). ARPA-funded researchers developed many of the protocols used for Internet communication today” (Zimmermann and Emspak). The internet runs everything we do today, at times it has the effect of making our lives easier but other times you have to wonder, are we smarter or dumber to depend on the internet for our source of information and the ever-climbing need for entertainment. This paper explores the possibility that the Internet has made us both smart and dumb by expressing what we have lost as humans and that is the ability to communicate through language and reading.
If you grew up in the 90’s it seemed that everyone had a set of encyclopedias and as soon as computers began to be more mainstream in the late ’90s to early 2000s those encyclopedias which helped kids complete science fair projects became extinct like the dinosaurs. What Encyclopedias forced people to do is read and read every word so that you knew what you were talking about. These books that were beige in color with the green spine helped us be more informed. We didn’t take something at face value as we do now. Computers and the Internet take hard work out of the equation. According to Is Google Making Us Stupid?, “ what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation” ( Carr). In other words, we are like two-year-old babies with short attention spans listening to adults tell us the right order of the alphabet.
A definite downfall to the Internet is the butchering of the language; it is really commonplace for us to speak in shorthand and emojis. The teachers of today are guaranteed harder times in Language Arts class due to the fact that students write how they text and they talk how they text. More than anything, we have forgotten what it means to have a conversation with each other. We are lazy people with how much the internet has changed our lives. The human connection has come down to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and as much as some people would like to change this, and take it back to simpler times like the early 2000s we have become victims to the likes and other people’s opinion of what is happening in life when all we really have to do is choose to live in the present.
“It is this control, this mental discipline, that we are at risk of losing as we spend ever more time scanning and skimming online. If the slow progression of words across printed pages damped our craving to be inundated by mental stimulation, the Internet indulges it” ( Carr). The argument that is being made here is that we have begun to take the simple things like being able to read and have an imagination for granted. That is the first thing you learn when you are a kid; you learn to recognize letters, and then you are graded or your intelligence is later sussed out by how well you are able to read and understand what has been read.
Without saying it bluntly the author is basically calling the human race dumb because our ancestors fought hard for the right to read and learn. It has become too easy for education and these simple things like reading and writing to be thought of as important. For example, reality television has giving people we never would have heard of an opportunity to become small-time celebrities with millions of dollars further proving Mr. Carr’s point of needing no formal skills. Another example that is painfully obvious is the success and demise of R&B crooner R Kelly. The guy is a musical genius among other things, but he is a musical genius who is broke because he never learned to read, which means he was taken advantage of his whole career.
But let’s be real, the internet and computers are synonymous without one there is no need for the other. These two inventions will live on throughout history and get even better with the coming future. As much as these things have taken away from us they have given us something in return. The two things that stand out the most is the ability to shop online and the fact that students all over the world can get an education online from any university or college of their choice. The latter may be looked at as suspect but there are some reputable colleges who have awesome programs. The only thing required of the student is committing themselves to have the discipline to do the work; the work of studying, participating in classroom discussion, essentially being their own teacher with the teacher and other students giving the support needed. This has made meeting goals a lot easier for the working parent and those in the military who are trying to figure out what their steps are going to be once they are no longer part of that community or they retire.
E-commerce is perhaps the best thing ever, and that is truly evident by how many Amazon boxes arrive for my wife. If you cannot find what you are looking for in a store, it is so simple to do a quick search online and just like magic it is at your door in a few days. Shopping for groceries has also become a breeze for the stay-at-home mother. Instead of taking her screaming child in the store, the mom hops online add her items to the cart, select a time for pickup, and the personal shopper loads her car. It was stated previously that the internet has destroyed relationships as far as verbal communication goes, but it has also lead to the superficial human connection via all the social media sites made available to us.
In conclusion, Is Google Making Us Stupid? has very valid points. Of course, Google is making us stupid. Access to the internet has made living too easy, we do not have to work hard at finding the answers we need. Unless you are an avid book reader or you love the smell of thousands of books in a library you could care less about how the impact of using the Internet and using Google for your knowledge consumption is affecting your brain. As a person guilty of Google consumption and internet browsing I might feel a little smarter because I had to read in order to find the perfect quotes for this paper. The strange thing about doing this paper is that as soon as it’s done I am still going to have the same internet behavior.
- Carr, Nicholas. ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid?’. Uio.No, https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/matnat/ifi/INF3700/v12/undervisningsmateriale/Is%20Google%20Making%20Us%20Stupid.pdf. Accessed 10 Feb 2020.
- Zimmermann, Kim, and Jesse Emspak. ‘Internet History Timeline: ARPANET To The World Wide Web’. Livescience.Com, 2017, https://www.livescience.com/20727-internet-history.html. Accessed 9 Feb 2020.