Is the Internet Making People Dumber?

If you think the Internet was invented by DARPA to make it easier for us to live, enjoy life and more easily buy slave-made products, you are damn wrong.

Paul Joseph Watson
July 6, 2011

Like any technology, the Internet is a double-edged sword, but is the world wide web literally re-wiring our brains, dumbing us down by destroying our ability to think analytically and infantilizing our minds in the process?

Are we becoming a world of wireheads as the constant onslaught of new information reduces our attention span to nothing – eviscerating our ability to concentrate?

Some neuroscientists say the Internet is re-moulding brains to rely on associative thinking – which leaves us incapable of reading or writing at length.

But Oxford University’s Susan Greenfield goes further – warning that the likes of Facebook and Twitter are giving people what amounts to a lobotomy of empathy.

“We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist,” she told the UK’s Daily Mail. “My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights; who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.” Greenfield even fears that real conversation may give way to sanitized screen dialogues.

There are Facebook and Twitter obsessives who can barely visit the bathroom without posting a status update about it. To these people, privacy, individualism and merely the nagging voice of their own conscience are terrifying prospects. They constantly need to fill their environment with sound and fury, signifying nothing. To them, silence is torture – considered thought and peace of mind is anathema.

How do we reach out to people with often complex information when their brains have been frazzled to the point where they can barely maintain a conversation?

This is a book — remember these things? 40 per cent of Americans read one or less over the course of a whole year. A quarter of Americans don’t read any books at all. A lot of our young people only read books because they are forced to do so for school and college. Too many words, not enough pictures, definitely no videos of dancing penguins.

American technologist Nicholas Carr fears that someone, or something, has been tinkering with his brain, remapping the neural-circuitry, reprogramming the memory. His friends tell him how they find it impossible to absorb the information contained in a longer article. Writing for Atlantic Magazine, Carr asks, is Google Making us Stupid?

Now we’ve had to adapt our message to still be relevant in this brave new world of superficial soundbites – if I’d have written all this up in a three page article a lot of people would have simply ignored it.

What do you think? Are social networking websites and the Internet general destroying our ability to think analytically and in any significant depth? How can we craft our message to compete in this world of information overload and 21st century wireheads?

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