I could not stop myself from being annoyed when I read Nicholas Carr’s article regarding Google making us stupid. The idea that the Internet is “making” us unable to read longer or think deeply seems like a personal problem more than one shared by society at large. Carr points to a study conducted by the University College London where they found the subjects “bounced” from site to site and “skimmed” the material instead of reading it at length, but I could not disagree more with their interpretation of what this may mean. His (and their) take from this is that people are losing the ability to interpret text, but what I think is that our ability to interpret anything has not diminished, but rather requires much more sifting to get to what actually is worth interpreting.
This may sound harsh, but I think it is more of an issue with humans who like to try and find things other than themselves to blame for possible shortcomings. These may be intelligent people who are saying media is influencing our thinking process, but I think there has to be a willingness to take ownership when you know you should be doing something else (i.e. read an entire book!). Do not get me wrong, reading long books/papers is not in my top five favorite things to do with my time, but if/when I have to I find some way to read it because I know I need to read these words to extract what I want to learn from them.
So, there is the side where we can just disconnect ourselves, but on the same side of this coin is what Jason Farman’s article discussed, which was that just assuming our new connections are not contributing to meaningful and engaging interactions themselves and/or offering a lot of opportunities for collaborative, thought-provoking discussions is doing the Internet a disservice and is just straight up incorrect. We have plenty of examples of our modern media dependency being a negative impact on our daily lives, but I think (and Jason would as well) there are way more positive benefits from our connections that we can use and will have to use because this is not changing anytime soon.