25 February 2015
Critical Analysis of “Is Google Making Us Stupid” and “African National Identities Can’t Be Built on Soccer Fever”
Deceit, duplicity, dishonesty, chicanery; all are used to describe things that are not always as they seem. But yet with such an apparent grasp of this concept, why is it so difficult to see when you’re being deceived? In Nicholas Carr’s essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and Jonathan Zimmerman’s “African National Identities Can’t Be Built on Soccer Fever” they both set out to prove this concept through the use of historical references and through the development of a counter argument. Ultimately they prove that even the most innocent of ideas are not always as simple as they appear and that they may yield unexpected negative consequences.
While both essays fundamentally have very similar arguments, they are about wildly different subjects, and present different negative consequences. In Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” he argues that, “as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” We essentially have the collective knowledge of the world in our pocket, and as a result we no longer possess knowledge of our own. Instead of being able to look at the clouds and trees and be able to tell if it will rain or not, we just wait for our smart phones to tell us. What used to be common knowledge has been replaced by a dependence on the internet. Carr’s argument is that while the ability to call upon the collective knowledge of the world’s knowledge may seem like a blessing; that it may actually be a curse in disguise. In Zimmerman’s essay, he speaks of how despite the convention of believing that soccer unifies African nations; that it actually serves as a “tool for one part of a nation-or, even, for one leader-to oppress the rest of it” (345). Due to the unpredictable nature of sports, any unity that may have brought about by soccer will likely be short lived.
Both Zimmerman and Carr rely heavily on historical evidence in order to develop their arguments. From Hitler’s use of the Olympics, to the creation of Gutenberg’s printing press, the use of these historical events forces the reader to acknowledge the validity of what the authors are saying. It is said that we learn from the past, and that a definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting a different result. Then would it not be true when witnessing events from the past being paralleled in the present? Zimmerman speaks specifically of Hitler’s use of the 1936 Olympic Games to assert his theory of Aryan dominance. Compares this to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where similar acts against the nation’s people had occurred. If the past has anything to teach us, it is that nothing is certain; that unintended consequences are commonplace. Arguments were made about the creation of the printing press, that it would “demean the work of scholars and scribes” and that while that may have been true, they were “unable to imagine the myriad blessings that the printed word would deliver”() So could the opposite hold true for the internet? Possibly, however it is hard to predict as was proven by the criticisms of the printing press, and the unforeseen benefits of it. The past is rich with examples of how things are not always as they seem, and that often the opposite of what you would expect to happen happens.
Both Carr and Zimmerman develop a sort of counter argument in an attempt to influence the reader to accept their arguments. Instead of trying to prove their argument, they decide to try and disprove the other side of the argument. This is one of the defining features of Carr’s argument, as he compares his argument to Socrates’ argument on the written word. He turns against his own argument, stating that he could be wrong, the internet might not have a sever downside. But...
Bibliography: Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
Zimmerman, Jonathan. “African National Identities Can’t Be Built on Soccer Fever.”
Essay Writing for Canadian Students with Readings.Ed. Roger Davis, Laura K. Davis,
Kay L. Stewart, Chris J. Bullock, 7th ed. Toronto:Pearson, 2013 345-346. Print.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document