With today’s ability to access all the information that we could ever use, we have run into the predicament of not needing to know anything. At the click of a button, we can have any information that we need, so this has led some people to believe that the internet is making us stupid. It’s not a stretch to say that the ability to retain information is related to how intelligent people believe that we are. However, that doesn’t really show how intelligent we actually are. This brings up the question of “what is intelligence?”. Is intelligence just remembering things that we’ve learned, because if that is the case then the internet might be making us dumb?
For the most part, I disagree that the internet is making us dumb. I think that we definitely do not have to memorize the same things that we used too, but I don’t think that memorization of facts isn’t the only thing that influences intelligence. In addition to that, we have so much information that we could learn that if someone was interested in a subject they’d be able to learn more about that subject. This subject could be a very small thing that doesn’t really matter and won’t have any effect on their life, but they still know a lot about it. Does that not make them smart, if only in a small way?
I support Clay Shirky in banning laptops from his classroom. There are a lot of distractions on the internet and while somethings are constructive there are a lot of things that can just be considered useless. In addition to that people might not be paying attention because they think that they could always google it later.
Whether or not the internet is making us stupid or not, it’s staying. There’s really no point in arguing that the internet is making us stupid because people will only ever have more access to the internet. The future is going to be filled with this kind of information technology, more powerful and bigger. Perhaps people in the future will think, “We used to be smarter when we had the internet, we didn’t rely on computers embedded in our brain to know things. We’d type out entire sentences in search engines, and search through the first page of Google.” In my eyes, this is just a “back in my day” argument with a little more substance than just blind nostalgia.
With the connectivity that we get from the internet, we can talk to pretty much anyone in the world, friends, family and even complete strangers. We get constant updates to what they’re doing, multiply that by however many friends you have and you get blasted with a stream of information about their daily lives that is pretty much unparalleled to anything that we as a species have ever had before. People will share aspects of their life that you’d never think to ask about. We get to see what people are doing every night, and what do we do when we see our friends having fun every night? We look at what we’re doing, scrolling through Facebook alone in our room.
Speaking from personal experience, Facebook doesn’t make us feel lonely, but rather it’s the vehicle of information that we compare our life too. In a sense it makes the lonely lonelier, we compare our life to the life that we think our friends live. No one unironically shares that they are home alone, instead they only ever share what they think would be interesting and what people want to see. We only ever see the good in people’s lives, and when we only see the good in other people’s life we start to think that they don’t have any bad parts. It’s this comparison that makes us feel like we truly are not as well off as our friends.
We still have the access to our friends that we did before, better even, but seeing it through the wall that is Facebook makes it seem that we don’t have that connection. I get the connection to my friends through social media, and I like that. However It still feels that every time I go on there all I see are my friends doing these awesome things, and I’m just sitting at home checking Facebook. I guess one simple way to put it is when you’re not actually producing content online, you’re consuming it, and producers are busy producing to consume. This logic is slightly flawed but I feel that it’s based in truth.
The Future of Reputation goes into detail about a story of a Korean woman getting the public’s wrath through the internet. She refused to pick up her dog’s poop, and because of the escalation of the internet, she dropped out of University to avoid the publicity. The article then goes into the ethical questions related to this event.
Some people will have this problem more than others. This relies heavily on what the person has to hide or what is said about them, and what the person has to lose. Someone who doesn’t have anything to lose will not be as bothered as someone who has the same thing said about them and something to lose.
We should only ever know what the person is willing to tell us, as well as what we are able to gather from observations of the person. In this way, we can still form our own opinions about someone, but if they really want to keep something hidden we won’t be able to find what that is. This way people will have privacy.
One way we can allow people to control their personal information without curtailing free speech or stifling freedom on the Internet is just be above it all. This is something that has more to do with personal responsibility than anything else. People should know not to spread false rumors or believe that they are true. On the other hand, people should know that they shouldn’t share personal information online, and they should not do anything that they know they’re going to have to keep hidden. However, much like it’s impossible to have a perfect world, it’s impossible to have a perfect internet.
People’s social transgressions should not follow them on a digital rap sheet that can never be expunged. This can be detrimental to not only their social life but their overall health. People should not be tethered to their mistakes, but the internet never forgets. This can make the internet a dangerous tool for those that choose to use it in that way.
It’s a possibility that the ease of inciting moral outrage create a mob driven police state. However, This is an unlikely event, While it’s definitely easier to create moral outrage unless someone takes advantage of people’s willingness to get outraged it will never get bad enough to create a police state.
The Biggest question that this Article has made me ask myself is: how much privacy are we allowed?