-Nicholas Carr, Is Google Making Us Stupid?
We live in the information age, but people tend to engage less in deep thought. The internet has allowed us to do more in less time, giving back hours of our lives we would have otherwise spent in the workplace, mall or post office. Nevertheless, impatience and boredom pervades even more. Could it be possible that the internet, the very thing that provides us tidbits of information on demand, is making us stupid?
Matt Richtel, writer of the New York Times article Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price explains that this may be an actual scientific occurrence, “They [scientists] say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.” Richtel points out that multitasking is the root of the problem, “While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.”
But to this, Steven Pinker author of Mind Over Mass Media counters, “The effects of consuming electronic media are also likely to be far more limited than the panic implies… Yes, the constant arrival of information packets can be distracting or addictive, especially to people with attention deficit disorder. But distraction is not a new phenomenon. The solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life.”
Observing my own habits, I know the problem is real. While balance and self-restraint may alleviate the situation, I cannot help but ask: Can we really curb this dumbing down of sorts or is this just an inevitable side effect of having too much fast food for the brain which we call the internet?