On today’s scaremongering menu: Is the internet making us stupid? To which one could naturally reply: when were we ever smart?
You must’ve heard this theory before, it has been on the airwaves for quite some time. It seems a study is released monthly proving that we are not neurologically equipped to adapt to new technologies, in fact these are atrophying our brain cells.
Most recently, Nicholas Carr – author of “What is the internet doing to our brains”, also known for his 2008 essay “Is Google making us stupid?” – spoke at last month’s World Computer Congress in Brisbane warning the audience of how “the internet, and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook in particular, are distracting and creating a society of disengaged communicators”.
Nicholas Carr is the most prominent information revolution naysayer, and describes the general process as he experienced it:
“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory.”
The issue at hand is not just stupidy, as hard to define as it is, but the ability to concentrate. It seems new technologies, such as smartphones, laptops and iPads and the exigency to multitask online are making us unable to focus on one thing at a time. We are now, so they claim, unable to read a book, listen to a whole album, study, rest our brain and share a common experience, as with normal social relations. We can’t concentrate, we have no long-term memory and we can’t think for ourselves. In fact, we’re “outsourcing memory function and thought to Google and email” says columnist Leon Gettler.
According to New York Times technology reporter Matt Richtel – Pulitzer Prize winner for “Driven to distraction” an article exploring the risks on texting whilst driving – being permanently plugged-in encourages voluntary information overload. This is a byproduct of our new multitasking culture, in fact we’re now consuming “three times the amount of information we consumed in 1960″.