…of my brain, because of the internet. This is why I’ve ran away from technology my whole life, as I had mentioned before, because I felt as though I would lose something precious: a real life and a healthy brain. The problems that Carr highlights in his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” are issues that I’ve been facing as well, particularly in being unable to read lengthy articles and meaningfully contemplate on my readings (the irony is that most of my writing nearly always ends up lengthy though, just as his was). Although I attribute this problem to be a fundamental reason as to why we are unable to concentrate for anything longer than a short period of time, I hadn’t realized how deeply these constant internet searches, etc. are altering our THINKING patterns and overall lifestyle, which is needless to say, huge and makes me wonder why not much is being done about this (not to mention how this weakness can be used for profit. Yikes).
I remember that my English professor at MCC who has been teaching for a very long time had mentioned to me that through the years, he has observed that the writing of his students has become less and less focused. They are unable to carry out an idea and elaborate on it because they jump around here and there and get distracted. That’s scary. To kill the ability to reflect, contemplate, and be focused, all of which are astonishing attributes that separates us from the animal kingdom, is – I believe—making us stupider and stupider. My Eng 219 teacher had also mentioned on the first day of class that he has been reading poems for so many years but now his ability to concentrate and contemplate is shrinking significantly because of the web. Ultimately, as I’m sure many will agree, our school systems are likely to be changed as a result of this difference in thinking and thus working.
Even something as simple as autocorrect on Microsoft Word I have noticed has actually reduced my spelling quality. It took some time but I’ve certainly noticed that my spelling has gone down because I’m used to a system that automatically fixes my errors for me. Following this further, I have also noticed that my brain “muscles” aren’t being exercised as much so to write something meaningful and well researched is almost painful.
But, of course, I don’t stand alone. I remember going to Barnes and Nobles and having such a difficult time picking out a good, beautifully written, intelligent, detailed, thoughtful, and interesting novel. So many books, and even some with awards!, had sentences that were too short and choppy — like tweets in a book form. It made me gag. It just didn’t feel as elegantly human. After a long search, nevertheless, I came across a fine book with all the above elements that I have mentioned, but why did it take so long? This problem of not being able to stay focused and detailed and yet still interesting for a long period of time is clearly widespread. It even extends to authors of our generation, not just any average person.
The question though is what to do about this? There is still so much good that comes from the internet but how and where do we draw the line?
I think schools should tackle this problem and teach students early on about how to research information in a way that exercises the brain, leaves room for contemplation, and also makes us hungry for detail so we can carry these skills for life.