The Attention Span Crisis
Over the year technology has been taking over humans’ lives. Humans are lacking in their attention span, and all because of the internet. The internet is making us stupid. In an article by Nicholas Carr “Is Google Making us Stupid?”, Carr explains the idea of how the internet has changed our lives by changing the way we think and process information mentally, differently from the past. Carr argues that we think less and rely on quick facts from the internet, rather than thinking deeply and doing deep research ourselves. I’m going to reflect on some issues that Carr points out that I agree with. I too believe that the internet is changing the way we think, and we must change back to how we used to think.
The internet has changed the way we read and has made it to where our attention span cannot follow through an entire book. Carr even examines that his own “concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages” (789). In relation, I find myself getting distracted after reading a page or two. My thoughts start to take over and my attention on the book goes away and I immediately forget what I just read. When I was in third-grade computers were not as popular for research, we did research from books. I was assigned to do research on the planet Uranus and every Wednesday we’d spend the last hour of class at the library researching our planet. I was able to concentrate more in grade school rather than in middle school and high school because I would actually read all the information in books. In middle school and high school, we were given laptops for homework and schoolwork. It made me stop readings books and made me start looking up questions to get the answers faster rather than reading through the text and finding it myself. The web has made me notice that I read differently compared to how I used to read in elementary school. Carr uses a metaphor about a jet ski and a scuba diver to explain how dramatically he changed the way he reads “once I was a scuba diver in the sea of worlds. Now I zip along the surface like a guy in a jet ski” (791).
In some cases, the internet has its benefits for some people who use it. Especially for the people who work off the internet such as bloggers and people who post their articles online. It's efficient for them to use the web rather than consume too much time reading a book for research. Carr admits that as a writer the internet has made it easier for him to do his research he says, “the web has been a godsend to me as a writer” (790). He explains how he can get his research done in minutes rather than taking him days at the library reading through stacks of books. Carr also mentions that thanks to text messaging “we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s…” (792). He believes that today's society reads more through texts than people ever read before. I read more text messages and emails today than I read books. It's not only me, In high school, I would see students hiding their phones inside their books pretending to read but actually were reading text messages and texting.
Although the internet is beneficial for some writers or bloggers, that still doesn’t change the fact that they’re slowly losing the way they process information. In relation to Carr's article, he mentions a blogger who writes about computers in medicine named Bruce Friedman that said, “I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print” (791). You know it’s serious when even the blogger himself who relies on the web admits that he can’t even process information like he used to, he must skim through it. One statement that really stood out in Carr's article was a quote from Maryanne Wolf a developmental psychologist at Tufts University she said, “We are not only what we read, but we are also how we read” (792). This means she’s worried that the way we read texts is weakening our ability to deep read because on the internet everything Is about efficiency. It is true I’ve lost the ability to read thoroughly an article I have to skim through it, or when I do read I don’t do much thinking of it, I just simply read it without trying to understand it. It's something I’m going to work on from now on.
After a considerable amount of time writing about how the web is affecting the way we think, read, and process information. I think it's about time we change for the better, meaning we should go back to the old-fashioned ways and get information from books rather than the web. We can’t rely our whole lives on the internet, the internet doesn’t give us the chance to think deeply as books do. Unless you want to be stupid I suggest you keep getting all your information from the internet. If you want to be smart get all your research and information from books.
- Bullock, Richard. “The Norton Field Guide to Writing” 5E, Is Google Making Us Stupid?. Nicholas Carr, The Atlantic, 2008, pp. 789-802