Times have been changing faster then society can learn to accept. Ever said “I knew I should have written that down”? Well, welcome to the age of “I should have emailed it to myself”.
Society has become dependent on the internet, and this has lead to a mistaken perception that Americans are devolving intellectually due to ease of information access. The reason this idea has taken shape is due to the stigma associated with this age of easy information. The idea behind easy information is that you don’t have to walk ALL the way to your front door for the newspaper. Instead of searching through the shelves of a library, we just type in keywords in Google (Ever been told to “google it”?).Instead of driving to bookstores, we just buy a digital copy of the book online.
The time saved is said to be detrimental because it makes the thoughtfulness needed to obtain information obsolete in the face of the world wide web -Except when math is involved. This is a concern that has blinded some people to the fact that the internet is a tool. It isn’t something that causes action unless someone actually uses it. It’s like me telling you “D’oh! My lawnmower causes me to be tired man.” In that way, it isn’t fair to say that the internet is to blame for an apparent lack of critical thought in society. We’ve been brought into modern times thanks to the internet. How could it be the cause of critical thinking problems? We are in this age where the utility of cyberspace is only limited by what we haven’t thought of yet.
Some would argue that the internet is crippling us. They claim that slowly but surely we are coming to rely on the internet for all of our thinking. This is said to be the case because of the very blessing of fast information that it provides. Instead of memorizing things, people look it up on the internet. Instead of using a dictionary to find a word one doesn’t know, they just go to dictionary.com (Shameless endorsement, but when was the last time you picked up a dictionary to look something up, honestly?).
These conveniences are popularly, because people love to be conspiratorial, thought to damage the critical thinking skills of people. Is this a sustainable arrangement? In order to be sustainable, it has to allow us to adapt and evolve to changing circumstances. The internet is an excellent example of a tool that allows people to continuously evolve by interacting with one another and sharing ideas –though trolls ruin the experience a bit. It gives us the convenience of direct communication to complete tasks more quickly to accommodate the rapid pace of an industrialized society. This speed, in turn, helps our society evolve technologically and socially.
Now the internet isn’t all pretty rainbows, unicorns, and other disturbing images of the like (Maybe not rainbows, but if I saw a unicorn in real life? That’s just creepy.). It can be a nasty place. Worse then the halls of any highschool, more terrible then being told you’re fired, and it might even trump the IRS (I get a cold shiver if I get a letter from them, because they are never mailing me to ask me how I’m doing.). It’s made people more bold, but… maybe things were better when people were afraid of retribution?
With that, I leave you with a question. In South Korea (yes that’s right. South Korea.) they have a rather glorious… okay maybe more crazy then glorious, but the bottom line is that they use this censorship against the citizens. So the question is: Does the internet make the South Koreans stupid, or is this purely an American way of thinking?
Maybe it would have been easier if we had continued writing things down.
- What is Mightier Than the Pen? (ariwriter.com)
- The pen is mightier than the Send button (theglobeandmail.com)
- A very funny (’cause it’s true) poem about critical thinking (blogs.suntimes.com)