Welcome to the Dark Side of the Internet

Multiply 573 by 256. Now try doing it without using a search engine’s calculator. It certainly takes more time to solve the problem on paper. But doing so shows that you not only know the principles of multiplication, but that you will also be able to obtain the answer even if you had no technological resources at your disposal. The previous generations used maps and memorized people’s phone numbers, but today werely on our smartphones to obtain this information. Nicholas Carr, author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” published in The Atlantic,explains that the internet is a ubiquitous avenue of data where most of our current knowledge is obtained through minimal effort. The question arises whether this access to information that is quite literally at our fingertips is doing more harm than good to our minds and our ability to learn. While our ongoing use of search engines may benefit us in certain ways, relying on the internet to answer all of our questions will lead to generations who no longer are able to think for themselves and have a continuously diminishing attention span.

We have been trained over time to store the knowledge we retain from the internet in a region of our brain called the prefrontal cortex. This part of our brain functions for short-term memory and to help us make decisions quickly. The reason why our brains are trained to forget is that most people who use Google don’t use it to acquire new information, but rather, utilize it in a quick cursory manner to get the rapid answer they were seeking. Using search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc lead people to believe that they’re smarter than they actually are.  People become convinced that they know more than they actually do because they have this ready access to the internet at their fingertips.  Soon enough, people won’t be able to read long books or articles, or concentrate for a long period of time, because they’re used to skimming over the words as a whole and picking out what is useful to them in a manner similar to speed reading. This will change our society drastically because many people won’t have the patience to sit down and read a book. Nowadays, a literature search at local libraries to find answers for research projects or just general questions is no longer necessary. The hours spent looking for the answer to a simple query at the library can be reduced to seconds by using a computer, tablet, or phone.

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 9.15.19 PMPeople all over the world are relying on the internet more than ever. On Google, under Internet Live Stats, users are able to see the number of searches on Google every day. Viewers see the constant increase in the number by the second. According to this chart, from 2009 to 2012 there were 400,000,000,000 more Google searches. There were 3.5 billion searches a day in 2012, and today there are more than 5.5 billion searches in a day. This clearly shows how every year we are becoming more and more reliant on the internet. Before Google existed, all of these questions weren’t able to be answered immediately. Some type of work or brain usage had to be done in order to receive an answer. We are indirectly being controlled by our technology. Don’t want to go downstairs for dinner until your Netflix episode is over? If people don’t begin to see how technology is taking over our lives, future generations will rely on search engines for everything and their intellectual skills are bound to deteriorate over time. If we lost all of our power, and had no batteries at our disposal, how smart would we really be?                            


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