Does the internet make us stupid?
It seems quite hypocritical of me to write a blog which is anti Google. To write anything and publish it on the internet for all to share and read while at the same time be full of doubt and worry and concern about whether it makes us stupid could make me stupid too?
But I am genuinely worried.
Is the capability of finding information at the click of a button really the best way to run ones life?
Who is Accountable?
The number one question has to be about trust. Do you trust the information you are taken to? Is it up to date? Is it ethical? Is it accountable? Newspapers can be taken to Court for slander or liable if they do not report the truth. They are accountable whatever you think of them, even the News of the World or even South China Morning Post (actually I need to check that!). But any old slapper can write an article and whack it up on a website and pass it off as being true. People can pretend to be someone else and actively try to hide their identity. (My name IS Lesley Croft btw).
Close Your Lid
As a teacher of students who all have their own MacBook on their desk and have the capability of googling anything. I suspect that they have all become completely addicted to their computers and are a bunch of slovenly layabouts who can't even do any thinking for themselves. The recent best seller by Nicholas Carr called The Shallows suggests that the use of the internet is altering the way we think and we have become less able to digest large and complex amounts of information such as...books. Are we now a world of 'slacktivists'. More about Nicholas Carr
"Should we reintroduce the death penalty?" I ask my class in an attempt to spark a discussion where opinions will be flying around the room like electricity. (not meant to be a pun)
Then I find a student who has typed the question into google and sets about opening up the squillion results to find the right answer. FGS (I'm not sure if that is a cool and hip acronym to write, like LOL, but For God's Sake comes natural to me so I feel it is worthy of a FGS). Use your own brain I yell! Close your lid!
Shirley Turkle has expressed much the same concerns in her book, Alone Together Why we Expect more from Technology and Less from Each Other. Because when it boils down to it using the powerful tool that is the internet via your lap top or your blackberry or your iphone is just you, in a room alone. You/we/me enjoy the contact and communication and sense of sharing we can get through the power of the internet. As humans we want to share and we get immense enjoyment out of sharing. This must be true otherwise why would Facebook or Twitter or the capability to comment on any random YouTube video be so popular? But would we enjoy it more or less if we had that face to face communication as easily. In this world of social networking just how sociable are we really?
Hello FB Friends! Come to my party
So if I was in a real live room with all my real live friends on Facebook would I be so keen to like them or comment on their new hat or latest holiday snaps? I predict there would be lots of moments of awkwardness, perhaps a few stifled yawns where the latest photos of their latest meal would get the better of me. Would I really be able to show the same enthusiasm towards their beautiful wife on her birthday. In the past those sentiments would only be shared in a personal birthday card which would stand on the sideboard. Now everyone gets to read it! I would struggle to remember names. And there would be at least one full-on-punches-and-everything-thrown fight, quite a few slanging matches not to mention one or two intimate, yet flirtatious, conversations in a few dark corners. And because all of these people are my friends I would be responsible for such an event and be the one who is blamed for the disaster that would be a party.
Those Where The Days
In my day when there was no internet or mobile phone or even a phone in the house. What did I do? I watched the three available channels on the telly, once they came on in the evening. Before that I read as many Enid Blyton books as I could get my hands on. I knocked on the doors of my friends to see if they wanted to come out to play. All friends lived no more than 100 yards away. When the local paper came I read that and found out what was happening in the area approximately of a 50 mile radius of where I lived. For a change we would walk to the chip shop, sometimes we would have money to buy chips. When I got older and could venture to Stockton to buy music I brought home 45rpm singles and played them on repeat with the arm back on the record player so I would learn them by heart (ask me to sing Puppy Love by Donny Osmond).
You know what, it was boring compared to the information sharing, movies, music and breaking news we have available to us now so perhaps this 'real world' that many hark back to is an illusion and just never really existed? Being in a room alone with a computer seems much more attractive to being in a room alone with a Danset record player and a Donny Osmond 45.