Internet Thought

Twenty years ago, the world was a different place. The Internet was in an infant stage, and mass access would not come for a few more years, and smart-phones even further down the road. Accessing information required more effort on the part of the researcher.  One could not simply reach into their pocket and have access to an entire library’s worth of information.

The advent of the Internet and technologies exponential growth has affected the way that man thinks and problem solves. It has aloud humans to become less dependent on our own memory, or humans have been slowly moving their memory from our brains to the more reliable system of a computer. The way that humans think is evolving, we are now using devices that fit into our pockets to supplement our knowledge and by doing so it is causing us to think and contemplate less. Instead of thinking about an issue, going somewhere to find out more about it and spending time researching, we can now find answers to the majority of life’s problems in seconds by simply typing in a few keywords. Nassim Taleb of MIT makes another interesting point, “By flooding us with knowledge, the Internet causes more confidence and illusions of knowledge.” Humans may feel like their smarter, but they’re hurting themselves in the long run.

This is causing two things to happen to humans, we are getting lazier about learning, but we’re thinking quicker. No longer must a person work as hard to retain knowledge because the knowledge is there waiting for them, all they have to do is remember how to access the information.  Humans now are processing information at a much quicker rate of speed compared to twenty years ago. With pocket Internet access and 24-hour news channels people are now constantly informed, they see a news story, process the information, and move on.

This is surely useful and efficient but there are negative consequences as well. Humans are becoming an A.D.D. culture, if we don’t get all the information we need in a 30 second clip then it’s too long for us to care. Technology has made people impatient; they can no longer wait for anything. If a person were to try and use Dial-up Internet in this day and age they would go crazy and give up waiting for their websites to load. But in the grand scheme of things dial-up is still an immensely quicker wait then it would have taken someone thirty years ago.  As blogger Bruce Friedman claims, “I can’t read War and Peace any more. I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post more than two or three paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”

While the creation and utilization of the Internet is an amazing achievement, and the growth of technology has definitely helped mankind, there are some drawbacks to it. Humans are no longer dependant on their own memory. They don’t have to remember when the Battles of Lexington and Concord were, because if they need to know the answer they can use the Internet to find out. Furthermore, it will only take a few seconds for them to find the answer, which creates a “need-to-know-now” mentality where if they don’t get an immediate reaction then interest is lost. The Internet is a great tool, but it still has flaws. It’s warping the human thought process, and if this trend continues then the human mind will suffer.

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One Response to Internet Thought

  1. Pingback: Internet Thought | Topics in Journalism: Social Media

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