Is the Internet Making Us Stupid?

Posted on June 17, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

For obvious reasons, Nick Carr’s article entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” in this month’s edition of The Atlantic struck a cord with me.

After all, I often point out the negative consequences of our technology-obsessed society. From an increase in narcissism to a decrease in meaningful social interaction, I have argued that our favorite technologies aren’t always beneficial.

Carr’s argument goes a step further and suggests that the Internet has conditioned us to become “mere decoders of information,” in the process rewiring our brains.

We “read” and “think deeply” far less than we used to because the “mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.”

Playwright Richard Foreman sees the “replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self—evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the ‘instantly available.’” In his opinion, we are becoming “‘pancake people’—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.”

In effect, the Internet is making us stupid.

, I address Carr’s article and some of the critics of it. I suggest that the most detrimental impact of our shift from “thinkers” to “decoders” is not simply widespread stupidity but the creation of a society “that is infinitely corruptible because the masses lack an ability to ’separate the wheat from the chaff.’”

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