The Internet and You

Slashdot ran an article today about the internet making people less intelligent. I’m not sure if it’s made me stupider, but it has definitely made me lazier and has seriously messed with my memory.

I no longer have a reason to retain information for very long because all the information in the world is at my fingertips. Between Wikipedia and Google, I can probably answer 90% of my questions in less than 5 minutes. Last week, I watched the same documentary twice because I forgot that I already saw it. One of the comments sparked something and I remembered watching it previously. I’ve found that I can’t even remember the date for longer than it takes me to write it down. There’s just no reason to remember things with information so handy. I’m no longer capable of remembering specific facts, just general concepts. I just forgot what I wanted to say about that…seriously - although that might be from fatigue rather than IIMADS (Internet Induced Memory and Attention Deficit Syndrome - pronounced eye-mads…I just made a new word!). I think I wanted to point out that the only way for me to remember details is to keep seeing and using them. Although, I think that’s more along the lines of brainwashing rather than remembering.

I’ve also become unbelievably lazy since I started using the internet regularly. On a few occasions, while doing homework, I’ve actually gotten up out of my chair and walked to my computer to Google something rather than flip through my textbook. Google is just so much more efficient. I can search billions of pages in seconds and get exactly what I need. Once I find a page, my browser can search for specific words in the text. You just can’t beat that. I can also order things and have them delivered rather than go to the store. Why should I drive to the store, root around, and pay sales tax if I can just have someone send stuff to me?

It also seems that I have this need for instant knowledge now. I’ve been trying to read this book about Intelligent Design, but I keep putting it down. I’ve had it for two weeks and I still haven’t made it though the first chapter. I’ve also been working on the first ten pages of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy since December. Although I’m surprised that I was able to finish 1984 in less than three weeks a few months ago. It seems like there’s too much filler and not enough information in books. I’ve grown used to a complex discussion being condensed into a few paragraphs to make for a faster read. Movies and shows contrast books in that they only run between half an hour to two hours. I know exactly how long it will be and it’s not even that long.

Another habit that I’ve picked up is constantly checking on these forums. I refresh the page practically after every article on Slashdot and during TV commericals. With the click of a button, I’m connected to people around the world without having to leave my room. It’s incredible how much time I spend sitting here refreshing the page, waiting for new posts. Phil needs a girlfriend…

That is one of the greatest things about electronic media. I love it. :slight_smile:

Wow, great post. I too read that Slashdot article, it was pretty thought provoking. I believe innovation is due cause of necessity, and laziness is due cause of innovation.

I remember learning about the Renaissance (I just had to Google to figure out how spell that… irony?) in school. The biggest thing that I remember about it, was that because of the period of mass innovation before, they had cities where they no longer had to work on acres and acres of farmland which led to a massive boom in the liberal arts. The Internet/robotics/innovation in general will cause the same kind of effect. We no longer have to work a repetative job, say in a factory. We have robots that can do that for us now. This leaves us free to work on bigger and better things.

We are also more of a logical society now. With the major science findings in the past few years, more and more people are doubting the religions and other spiritualities. I’m not trying to start a religion battle here, but it’s a fact that there are more atheists/deists/agnostics today than ever before.

As far as Googling rather then looking in your textbook, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Why waste your time looking the slower way, when you can do it the faster way and get more done faster? Honestly, I can’t wait until all books are digitized. Theres nothing I’d like more than to hit ctrl+f when I’m looking for a certain phrase in a book…

Coincidentally, Slashdot covered that today.

I was concocting a really great argument fully describing why IIMADS (that is a great acronym!) is something to be avoided at all costs, and why the appropriate application of self-discipline to prevent the onset of Internet-Supported Stupidity (ISS) would be a highly desireable trait. But then I realized that with all the information already available on the Internet, it was virtually certain that someone would already have had to make the argument, and I should be able to just reference it. One quick search and presto! There it was! So rather than tell you why IIMADS and ISS are not good things, I will just refer to this post and let it speak for me. After all, why should I have to think when someone else has already done it for me?

(where are the HTML “irony” tags when you really need them!)


I do not think that (ISS) will become a huge problem because of the fact that Dave stated before that if that surgeon has to stop halfway through that your faith in that surgeon is going to drop dramaticly. The fact is we will still have to retain the knowledge and learn it the same way we always have. You are still going to have to learn the information. The internet may make it tempting to just look up the information and just quickly forget it but you will have serious problems down the road when you were supposed to already have learned it and retained it so that you can call upon it instantly without having to go to a computer to look it up on google. When you go into Mechanical engineering and decide that knowing you really don’t need to learn which elements have certain lattice structures and how those lattice structures your not going to be allowed to look it up during the exam. The internet i feel is a great medium to communicate with many people and to share information, but it will never replace a good found knowledge that you can retain for the rest of your life.
Just my 2 cents