Mind vs Machine

Are our minds becoming computers? As Nicholas Carr talks about in his article “Is Google Making us Stupid,” the more we use the Web, the more our style of thinking changes. Let’s check it out. 

When was the last time you read a book and took time to reflect on what you just read? I know I haven’t in a very long time and after reading this article, I know I’m not the only one. Carr explains how he struggles to concentrate on long pieces of writing due to the impact the Web has had on our brains. (1) The way his brain thinks has also changed and taken on the “convenience” factor the Web has taught us. Instead of sitting down and processing the information we read, people tend to “skim” whatever is put in front of them.

How we read

Although we may be reading more then people in the 1970’s or 1980’s, the way we are reading has changed because the way we think has changed. Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University, explains that since the Web promotes “efficiency” and “immediacy” as the most important reading factor, our brains have been trained to think the same way. (2) Our brains have become numb to the idea of reading for interpretation and connection.

In this new age of software, we now think of our brains as computer operators. If you think about it, we literally use the internet for everything. It is our map, our clock, our dictionary, our calculator, and so on. After we log on and start using the internet, the purpose of why we logged on in the first place gets lost with all of the distractions that are presented. The internet surrounds the content you are reading with hyperlinks, ads, and so on. With the invention of Google, all of the information that is presented to us is controlled. The links we click and sites we view feeds Google, and other companies, information about us. For the first time, Google has categorized knowledge for us.

The Future

The internet has become a machine designed to produce information in the most efficient way possible. Are our minds turning into this machine too? The internet is changing our minds into a high-speed data-processing machine right before our eyes. (4) We have become so reliant on computers that we literally expect them to think and process information for us.

A Different Perspective…

Looking at it from a different perspective, maybe Google isn’t making us stupid, but more demanding. Maybe the internet’s speed and efficiency has rubbed off on us, and is that really so bad? When I’m reading information, sometimes I don’t need to sit and reflect on what I read, sometimes I just need the main points. Are our minds really loosing the ability to delve into information, or is it just more important to know the surface level of a wider range of knowledge?

I think sometimes we need to make that decision for ourselves. When we find information that we think is important, I think we need to take a deep breath and dive deep into the realm of information that is presented. So in the end, what do you think? Is Google making us stupid, or is Google making us smart?

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