Nicholas Carr's article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?", contends that despite the many benefits of the Internet to humankind, it has greatly affected how humans think and process information. According to Carr, the Internet works by rewiring the brain so that it enjoys the experience of reading, surfing, and scanning online materials, which includes magazines, newspapers, and books. Carr mentions Bruce Friedman, a pathologist who also works as faculty member of the University of Michigan Medical School who concedes that his thinking and reading skills have changed with the advent of the Internet. He insinuates that the way he thinks has taken a "staccato" quality, which means instead of absorbing and appreciating each word and sentence that he reads, he now only scans web pages and book or newspaper pages (Carr). Because of this, questions arise regarding the legitimacy of Carr's contentions. Does the Internet make people lazy? Does Google indeed make people stupid? Google and the Internet are tools that assist man to locate information quicker as they help Internet users become smart users of technology and searchers of online information.
While Carr speaks with a level of certainty regarding the Internet's contribution to man's "supposed" stupidity, he also affirms that the Internet has helped him complete his previous researches. It has even supported his penchant for reading by providing hundreds and thousands of options to satisfy this craving for knowledge and information. He cites that Internet users now adhere to "power browsing", which is the act of scanning through hundreds of search results as users tend to search through articles for specific keywords instead of scrutinizing each article for information. Similar with these people, I also do the same thing, that is, power browse, but I d not believe that doing so has made me less intelligent. Instead, power browsing has made me a clever information researcher considering that I am now able to locate quality information at a much faster rate than before. With the advent of technology and the digital age, it is highly important that users are able to work around thousands of information available on the Internet.
Google, Yahoo, and Bing are just among the search engines that help make the Internet search experience more bearable. Maryanne Wolf, author of the book Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, emphasizes that, "We are not only what we read, we are how we read" (qtd. in Carr). It is true that the reading habits of people have drastically changed nowadays, but it does not mean that when an individual reads books and articles online the way he or she processes the information is not enough to constitute knowledge gained. With the myriad of information available on the Internet, going through books and articles using the traditional method is absurd and could be an overpowering experience for the information searcher. However, with the help of search keywords, search engines are able to point out specific articles and sources that we can use to process information. What makes this better than the traditional method is that more data and information become easily accessible. In addition, with the use of correct and more specific keywords, the search will also produce quality results.
This arrangement is what our teachers have been teaching us about reading comprehension. We were taught to look for certain keywords or key phrases to remember and we will be able to grasp the meaning of the story we just read. We even had exercises in the past that helped enhance our comprehension skills. Therefore, this is reading comprehension and speed-reading in action or what Carr refers to now as power browsing.
In addition, when I use search engines, I come up with very specific keywords that will most likely produce the specific information I need. This is the same attitude that most Internet users now employ. In other words, it only signifies that as searchers of Internet information, we are intelligent enough to know what we want, including other types of information necessary or related to the search. More than making us stupid, Google searches stimulates our minds.
Regardless of evidences that Carr presented, my belief remains steadfast that Google and Internet usage does not reduce an individual's capacity to think and process information. The way we read and store information in our minds may have changed a bit, but the way information is processed remains the same, if not better. This is because we, as humans, have to adjust and learn to cope with the thousands of information on the Internet. Basically, we are in control of technology and how these changing technologies and advances operate. The changes that we implement are our own method of coping and adjusting to fast-changing equipment and tools. More than anything, I think Carr's claims are just assumptions and are most likely brought about by what he previously experienced. As tools for the modern way of locating information, Google and the Internet have made us even smarter and ready to take on the world.
Carr, Nicholas. "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" The Atlantic. 2008. Web. 7 August 2013. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/>.