This article by Nicolas Carr exposes what the internet has done to our brains especially major search engine like Google. In his article ‘is Google making us stupid’, Carr exposes how the overuse of computers has affected our brains. This article starts with a super computer HAL , a super computer pleading with Dave Bowman an astronaut who has been nearly been sent to a deep space with a faulty machine. Carr tries to disconnect the memory circuit that controls the artificial memory despite HAL telling him ‘Dave my mind is going ‘. Dave replies, ‘I can feel it, I can feel it. Carr uses this analogical argument to emphasize his point how the use of internet has poisoned our mind to a point that we are operating like artificially programmed machines. Our mind has become artificial, a fact that I greatly agree with because when we look in the really life situation, the way we do things is greatly governed by not ourselves but by computers. Even our social lifestyle is now greatly determined by the internet for instance, social networks such as facebook dictates on how its users ought to socialize.
From Carr’s argument, although the use of the internet has not made us to literally lose our mind, it has changed the way of our lives and has greatly affected our way of thinking. This comes out clearly when he says “Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think”.
Looking at the really life situation on what the use of computers and the internet has really done to our brains and our way of live, to a very great extend, Carr’s argument holds a lot of water on the negative use of computer and internet. Carr tries to make a point that the use of internet is having more deep effects than any of us can contemplate about. He realizes that his thinking is no longer the same. This comes out clearly when he puts that “something was remapping his neural circuitry” he realizes that after frequently using the internet he has lost the ability to have a sustained thought. I completely agree with his argument mainly because it is based on facts that hold true in really situation. For sure, the use of internet has greatly affected our thinking and our lifestyle. From Carr argument, it comes out clearly that when we give in to the natural impulses of click and skim rather than read and reflect, the internet can actually do a great harm to us by limiting our attention spans.
To show how the use of the use of computers and the internet has changed his life, Carr brings out two sides of his life. One side was how it was easier for him to immerse himself into a lengthy book or long article and how his mind will be wedged in the sequence of events or turns of argument. He used to spend many hours strolling through long pages of text. This side of life has greatly deteriorated and now he spends little time reading and he often losses concentration after three to four pages. He now gets bored quickly when reading detailed materials and will always try to find something else to do online and now he says that, the deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.
Carr says that it is not about people skimming and jumping around very quickly. He argues that the internet has inhibited our ability to read longer books and articles, this comes out when he says “It makes it harder even when we're offline to read books, as skimming takes over and displaces our modes of reading," a fact that people who are frequent users of the internet claims to be true because they maintain that after the use of the internet, the passion to read books or detailed articles fades away and if they read at all, it is just skimming ‘In his article titled ‘Is Stupid Making Us Google?’ James Bowman (75-80) emphasizes this argument by saying that he goes online to avoid the traditional way of reading. However James regrets about his changed reading habits by saying that reading online he deprives himself the ability to read offline. This fact is further emphasized by Carr when he builds up an alarming conclusion in the end 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.”
Despite the changes that have occurred as a result of his reading and thinking habits, his life is not in vain, because now he spends a lot of time online searching and surfing and making great contribution to the databases of the internet. He says that the web has greatly contributed a lot to him and his career as a writer because he can now carryout a research in minutes, something that initially was tedious and time consuming, what one only need s is to do a few Google searches as opposed to spending a lot of time in stacks or periodical rooms of libraries.
In this article ‘is Google making us stupid’ he tries to argue how the use of internet has become a universal means via which people can quickly access and share information. His argument on the good side of internet and computer technology shines light on the other side of the coin and brings out the positive things associated with the use of internet, something that I completely concur with him because there are many good things that our lives depend that we cannot imagine without internet and computer technology at large. The internet was initially used to send e-mails only. But this has greatly changed because the internet can now be used to find information and to promote our businesses, something that has greatly improved our lives. Today the internet is endless and contains sea of information.
Despite the virtue that comes with the use of the internet, there are also demerits and vices that are associated with it. Carr in his article argues that media channels accessed over the internet are not inert source of information but they supply the stuff of thought and at the same time determine the direction our way of thinking is likely to take.
Carr in his article, he claims that the use of the internet has negatively affected his concentration contemplating capacity. To him lack of concentration and contemplation has promoted laziness of the mind because now his mind expects him to absorb any information the way the net distributes it. To bring a contrast on how the internet has affected him as a writer and how it is the cause of his deteriorating concentration he says “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski”. He cannot concentrate the way he used to concentrate before the internet had taken roots into his way of life. Carr says that he is not the only victim of the internet user. He brings out the lives of Scott kart and Bruce Friedman who have totally changed their way of reading and thinking. The two confess that reading and absorbing long articles is becoming a challenge and they no longer read books. I concur with his argument because for sure our addiction to the internet has made the quality of our reading deteriorate. based on research that has been carried out, it has been found that the web makes it harder to achieve the more intellectually objective of getting our heads around some issues which we often achieve by reading a tightly incorporated analysis of a book or a scholarly article.
In his book ‘The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (45-65),professor Bauerlein agrees with Carr on the fact that addiction of online reading has not only led to educational collapse but has also resulted in deformation of the very idea of intelligence. Also in this book, professor Bauerlein echoes by saying that the model of accessing the information using the internet is information retrieval as opposed to knowledge formation. He argues that materials are transferred from the web to homework papers without even passing through the minds of the students. That is how our reading habits have deteriorated. However some like Larissa MacFarquhar in his book, “who cares if John can’t read? The value of books is overstated,” is of different opinion he thinks that the alarmist are in the wrong for the “the sentimentalization of books.” He supports his argument by quoting a professor of Renaissance literature who once told him “Look, I don’t care if everybody stops reading literature.... Yeah, it’s my bread and butter, but cultures change. People do different things.” The point he tries to stress out is that the world is changing and the way we used to do things is no longer the same and that is time we appreciated the change in culture and embrace it instead of being Stewarts of the traditional way of reading. Although we should embrace change to some extent I think Larissa MacFarquhar argument is mistaken because even as we try to embrace new ways of doing things we should be selective and try to blend only virtues that are associated with old and new ways of doing things and not to completely leave old and adopt new without being reflective.
From his argument, Carr makes it clear that we are we are not only what we read but also on how we read. This is because since he changed his way of reading also his way of thinking has also changed. This fact that needs emphasis because many people may be tempted to think the two are not correlated. This means that how we read greatly defines the shape of neural circuit in our brains. Through his arguments, it comes out clearly that our brains are soft, pliable and malleable and greatly affected by things we least think of like change in reading habits. This means that our brains have the ability to keep reprogramming themselves depending on the use we put them to. And the net has proved to have profound effect in reprogramming our brains and thus affecting how we think.
In conclusion, although use of computers especially in accessing the internet has greatly changed our lives in terms of easy access of information and our way of socialization, the overdependence of computers especially the net has greatly changed our brains to artificial thus becoming machine like. Therefore as we rely on the use of computers to execute our daily activities, we should have limits and be cautious lest our intelligence will be poisoned jus as Carr puts it, “as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence”. Jus as the say too much of something is dangerous.