Literary Analysis Of Is Google Making Us Stupid
“Have you heard: The average attention span [of Americans] is down from twelve seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now? That is less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish (Rachel Ainsworth).” In “Is Google Making us Stupid?,” Nicholas Carr states how we no longer frequently engage in deep reading experiences because of our reliance on technology; consequently, our ability to sustain concentration and receive the benefits from it – e.g., deep thinking and contemplation – have been negatively affected. Carr makes this point by using different types of evidence such as imagery and ethics. Though Carr makes a valid point, I feel that he missed on a few key elements. With the different techniques he uses, the thesis can be adequately asserted and persuade the readers into Carr’s favor if tweaked the right way.
Carr identifies an important problem. He begins with the reasonable observation that many of us seem to be reading smaller and smaller fragments of text. He claims that this is a problem due to regular internet usage. He uses many different types of persuasion to prove his point including ethics. At the very beginning of the article he quotes Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a good way to grab reader’s attention. Carr writes how “Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial ‘brain.’ ‘Dave, my mind is going,’ HAL says, forlornly. ‘I can feel it. I can feel it.’” This is a good way to explain to reader’s that don’t know the synopsis of 2001 what might be happening. After the initial paragraph Carr goes on to say “I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory.” This all foreshadows the future paragraphs about artificial intelligence and encompasses the reference of 2001. The main ethical appeal, though, is about A.I. (or artificial intelligence). Carr writes that “The company [Google] has declared that its mission is ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ It seeks to develop ‘the perfect search engine,’ which it defines as something that ‘understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.’” Carr then says how Sergey Brin and Larry Page (the founders of Google), speak routinely of their desire to turn their search engine into an artificial intelligence. He says “The idea that our minds should operate as high-speed data-processing machines is not only built into the workings of the Internet, it is the network’s reigning business model as well. The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements.” This statement connects his whole thesis together; that Google is making us more “stupid” and is an appeal for the younger generations who enjoy futuristic intelligence and movie references.
The main piece of evidence is Carr’s use of imagery. “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski, (Carr).” This set of imagery really stuck out to me. Carr is saying how in modern times, we don’t “dive” deep into pieces of work. We read things so quickly like tweets or Instagram descriptions and move on. We have trained our brains to look at something for a short period of time and go on with the next comment. Our attention spans have shortened and because of that we “ski” across the surface of texts. We can no longer sit and read long articles unless it is something that sparks our interest. The scuba diver is able to go into the ocean (or articles in this case) and bring new information about what was discovered to the people that our skiing along the top instead of investing time and brain power into a deeper understanding. We skim across the surface of text just like the jet ski instead of diving deeper into readings like the scuba diver. Imagery is a great way to get the reader’s involved and submersed into the reading which is exactly what the metaphor is: a jet skier and a scuba diver. One floats through an article while the other gets involved and explores new areas of interest.
I feel that Carr’s article is very interesting and he makes a valid point but I’d like to see some changes. For one, he writes about how we can’t sit and read an article for a long period of time, then writes a long-dry article that is thirty-seven paragraphs long. Is it just irony? Or is this Carr’s way of testing us if we can sit through such a long presentation. I’d like to see more statistics as well. Some possibly on attention spans of today’s world versus the world ten years ago. I’d really enjoy reading about the differences between people growing up with the internet versus those who didn’t. For instance, “According to ChildWise UK children spend an average of 1 hour 50 minutes online per day. That’s 1 hour 50 minutes of sedentary time, not flexing their muscles, improving their lung capacity, not growing bigger and stronger. It may not sound like that long but if you take into account school, dinner, bathing and bedtime it’s quite a large proportion of an under 18’s free time, (“Pros and Cons of Growing Up With/Without the Internet – The Technology Generation Gap”).” With not growing up with the internet, people had to actually go to libraries and find all the information they needed from books. While those who did grow up with the internet simply had to do a Google search. I’d like more comparisons in a piece to really understand the impact that the internet has had on the younger generations versus the older ones.
I would also have loved to seen more statistics and research studies. Not stories about typewriters. I would have really liked to read how in this modern age, we are no longer reading on paper but on screens and how this is negatively impacting us. “A recent study of hers reported that teens who spent more time on screens in the form of social media, internet, texting, and gaming thought about suicide a lot more than kids who didn’t: about 48% of those who spent five or more hours a day on their phones had thought about suicide or made plans for it, while 28% of the teens who spent only one hour per day on their phones, (Alice G. Walton).” This really is a shock to a lot of people that this common item is hurting them and their family’s brains. I feel that Carr’s article needed something, like this study, that will make readers think about what he is saying and then in fear of their brain’s health, lean towards Carr’s point of view.
“Nicholas Carr is correct in noticing that something is ‘Making us Stupid’, but it is not Google. Think of Google as a life preserver, thrown to us in a rising flood. True, we use it to stay on the surface, but it is not for the sake of laziness. It is for survival. The flood that is drowning us is, of course, the flood of information, a metaphor so trite that we have ceased to question it, (W. Daniel Hills).” Humans brains are still forming and changing even after mid-twenties when it is said we stop developing. But that just isn’t true. The human brain is malleable and sadly has been getting dumber, not because of Google but because of the internet. We don’t challenge our brains anymore. Kelly Szala, a nurse practitioner at St. Luke’s North Hospital, said that it is required that medical professionals write instructions for patients at a third grade reading level. That is just another piece of evidence that proves we are getting dumber day after day if we do not challenge our brains and stimulate them the way they need to be. And I completely agree with Nicholas Carr’s opinion that we are getting more empty-headed. It just may not be Google that is making us do that. It is the websites in the internet that is causing this. Google is just a segway into these sites.
Through the use appeals and figurative language, Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?,” sufficiently makes readers see the fact that we no longer can read an article or paper for long periods of time due to the internet. But, I feel that with some extra facts/studies and possibly even shortening the article, his point would have made a bigger impact on his target audience which is the younger generation. The exact generation that can’t even sit through a ten minute presentation. But ultimately we have no one to blame but ourselves. If some of us no longer seem to be able to peruse a book all the way through, it isn’t because of Google or the extended volume of information on the Internet. It is because we do not challenge ourselves the way we use to and we are suffering because of that.
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