What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
by Aruna Singh
Since the creation of the internet, do you think access to scores of information has made you any smarter? Or do you find yourself relying on it too much?
It can be argued that the internet has taken the place of many human intimacies such as face to face interaction, traditional dating, and non-computerized pastimes such as sewing or painting. However, I personally feel that many tools provided by the internet can make amateurs in any field radically smarter than they were before. For instance, I know the idea of being "self-taught" in anything has lost some of its glory and impressive essence due to the fact that sites like Youtube and Lynda offer lessons at the click of a mouse.
I think that at their most, digital tools help people learn more, explore more, and in some ways, communicate more diversely. The internet has allowed me to hear and learn about people I would never otherwise meet. It has also given me the opportunity to learn things from people I have yet to meet, such as mavens on random websites.
However, one thing that I am definitely worried about is that the internet causes a lack in retention of knowledge. For instance, if you know some calculus formula you learned is readily available at the blink of an eye if you typed it in a search engine, why would you retain the memorization of that formula? Why would you retain information about anything if the internet can find it for you in less than a few seconds? With that in mind, I think that respect for expertise in certain fields has been lost due to the internet. Unfortunately, Historians, linguists, and even professors are not really valued as highly as they used to be because many of their functions can be easily replaced by the internet.
So, in terms of whether the internet is making us smarter or dumbing us down, I think it is doing a significant amount of both.