24 October 2012
Media Limiting Intelligence?
In the past, the transfer of information across the world was a slow, painstaking process. However, in today’s society, information can be spread by the media throughout the world in the blink of an eye via television or Internet reports. Anyone who has access to the Internet can tap into an unlimited amount of information quickly. Search engines such as Google have made accessing information as easy as clicking a mouse. Smart phones allow people to take the Internet with them anywhere. Television also provides information rapidly and on a wide scale. Although television does not allow one to control the information flow, it does provide knowledge of a variety of topics with ease. With the Internet and television becoming so prevalent in the lives of many people, a question has arisen. Are computers, specifically the Internet, making humans less intelligent? And if this is true, is this necessarily a bad thing? Being a teenager, I brushed the initial question off without giving it much thought. I had no doubt in my mind that I was as every bit as intelligent as a person fifty years ago. But after some further reading, I began to question my original thoughts. In the essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” the author, Nicholas Carr, explains that the invention of the Internet has changed our lives. The Internet has become our primary source of information (318). After spending so much time on the Internet, Carr believes that the Internet and media are rewiring his brain. Reading lengthy passages of text seem challenging to him. The Internet and media outlets are “chipping away at (his) capacity for concentration and contemplation” Carr states (318). Instead of having an inner intelligence, Carr states, “We risk turning into ‘pancake people’ –spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button” (323). When I first read this, I was shocked. Carr describes exactly how I tend to read articles on the Internet. I find I simply skim over paragraphs and rarely read an article from start to finish. I also found that I could not for the life of me remember the information as well. Does this mean I am less intelligent than before? After reading Carr’s essay, I certainly do not feel as smart when I cannot retain information I skimmed over.
Another essay I read to help understand what the media is doing to our minds is “Internet Addiction”. In this essay, the author, Greg Beato, explains how humans are becoming more and more dependent on the Internet. One example Beato uses is a study of two hundred college students. The two hundred students from the University of Maryland were challenged to take a 24-hour “media fast” (569). Students went on to describe how “crazy”, “anxious”, “miserable”, and “jittery” they were without access to computers or social media (569). One student was quoted as saying, “I clearly felt addicted, and the dependency is sickening” (569). I think the quote above applies to almost all high school and college students. I often find myself checking my Twitter or Facebook pages every so often. If I do have access to social networking, I feel a tad lost, almost like I am missing something. Beato then continues to give extreme examples of people addicted to the Internet. In one example, a Harvard student “lost a scholarship because he spent too much time playing games” (569). I believe this example reiterates what Nicholas Carr writes in his essay. The Harvard student’s behavior was changed by technology, specifically computer games. Carr’s behavior was changed by the abundance of information presented to him on the Internet. Carr goes deeper in his explanation of this phenomenon. Carr believes it is possible the Internet did not just change the way he read, but also...