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In the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr he argues that the internet is changing the way we think and work for the worst. I have to disagree. Although the internet is changing us, it’s for the better. First, the internet has become a great equalizer in terms of education. Second, communicating across the web allows for intercultural experiences that were once impossible without a plane ticket. Third, even though Carr may feel uncomfortable with his brain being molded by the web, the younger generation has only ever known the internet and as such is better suited to the vastness of it.
To begin, in Is Google Making Us Stupid, in Carr’s whole argument that the internet is making us stupid is easily refuted when looking at the resources available to us now. We have Wikipedia, online school and library databases, even college course all being served on the web. At one point, Carr brings up an opinion of Richard Foreman, a playwright, that we will become “pancake people – spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information”. What they fail to realize is that although the internet has an endless amount of information, the user doesn’t necessarily try to access all of it. Rather, just like when reading traditionally, we gravitate towards what we are interested in and what is useful to us. The hyperlinks that Carr mentions as we “power browse” are actually much more helpful in going deeper into a subject. If someone is reading an article, let’s say on Wikipedia, and they come upon a hyperlink to a subject that they aren’t well versed in and will help them to understand their current subject better, why wouldn’t they follow it and gain more information. This allows for a student to learn more about particular subjects, giving them more knowledge faster, and making them less stupid.
Another blessing the internet has brought us is the ability to communicate across cultures without leaving our homes. On sites such as Reddit or Facebook, people from all over the world can read about a topic and discuss it not just with other people in their area, but with people who are actually being affected by the topic at hand. Where previously, it would be impossible to see candid photos of the aftermath of a war or storm; now people from the affected area are putting their own pictures up on the web and sharing them with the rest of the world. This is something that Carr fails to mention in his article. Cultural experiences are a part of our education. How can something that makes this experience so available to everyone be making us stupid. Unless the person is just using the internet to goof off, in which case it can be argued that that person would be goofing off regardless if the internet was available to them, then we must admit that the internet is a treasure trove of communication. We are able to have real time conversations across the globe with billions of people all at once, getting points of view that were previously impossible.
Finally, my whole argument in this essay of course comes from someone who has had internet for most of his life. Carr mentions that Socrates “bemoaned the development of writing”. Socrates feared that people would “cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful”. No one will argue today that the development of writing was a bad thing for our society. Yet, this is almost exactly the same argument that Carr is making against the internet. Carr complains that he feels as if someone is “tinkering with his brain”. Perhaps for someone of the older generation, the internet is too vast to handle properly. His brain may not be able to handle it and is having a hard time dealing with the overload of information available. For someone of the millennial generation and younger, the internet has mostly always been there. Our brains do not have to change for the internet, we developed with it. As such, it may be the case that the younger generation is better capable of using the internet properly. We may not get lost in a sea of hyperlinks, losing our way as we wander from subject to subject. From personal experience, I have always been able to find the information I need and use it to my liking. Carr believes that the internet won’t allow the “intellectual vibrations” that the printed word would. It’s really a matter of focus and not losing your head. It’s about using the internet responsibly and not becoming overwhelmed.
In conclusion, in Is Google Making Us Stupid? Carr comes off as a nostalgic in his article, and misses the point that the internet has not ruined our abilities for creative input or deep thinking, but rather the internet has become a new modicum and template for personal expression. Now, a writer doesn’t need to be published, they can start a blog and express themselves however they so please. To learn about a subject, you don’t need to enroll in a university class. To experience an intercultural moment, you don’t need the money for a plane ticket. The internet has become a great equalizer in society.
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