As we all know, the internet has become a way of life for many of us. Not only has it changed the way we obtain information and communicate, it has also changed the way we think. So is this change positive or negative? A class of journalism students at the University at Albany recently debated over this topic during a social media course. Mike Campana says: “We have so much information at our fingertips that we can get so many sources so much quicker. It’s more specialized. We’re more refined.”
In my opinion, he is absolutely correct. The internet is only expanding our horizons to all the endless possibilities out there. We are able to filter out the useless information while obtaining knowledge and learning in areas which we find compelling and interesting. Instead of spending days or months to gather research, we can now cut down that time to maybe just a few hours. Although I do believe that our generation has gotten lazier and more distracted, it does not change the fact that we are actually smarter than our previous ancestors because of the tools that we have and the knowledge of how to use them.
The internet has provided us the possibilities of information which we have never experienced before. Years ago before the wide usage of internet and search engines, students would actually find their way to a local library to research and look for materials and information.
In present time, the internet has over millions of users and with just a few clicks, those same students can obtain unlimited and a wide-array of links to scholarly articles, newspapers, encyclopedias, etc. Like Sue Oneill says: “Technology is a tool. It’s not making us stupid, we’re [simply] saving time.” The tools of the internet is expanding our intellectual horizons. Our minds are not only acquiring more information and learning many more different perspectives of a topic, it is also advancing the time that it would take the mind to process and learn this information.
With so much information available to us, it’s no wonder that we become increasingly distracted. Like Reid Buchanan says, “The internet is creating a generation of multitaskers. They cannot focus on a topic for a long period of time.” According to an article in The Atlantic titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Nicholas Carr believes that the internet has caused us to stop being the traditional readers. We can no longer read long articles or books without taking breaks to do something else. “I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do.” Carr says. “And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.”
An article in Newsweek “Does the Web Change How We Think” also agrees with this idea that the overflow of information is causing our generation to have short attention spans. According to the article, a Communications scholar Howard Rheingold believes the Internet fosters “shallowness, credulity, distraction,” with the result that our minds struggle “to discipline and deploy attention in an always-on milieu.”