Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Throughout the semester, so far, we have learned about the strengths and weaknesses living in a technological era has had on our generation of students. This week, there were two main ideas that spoke to myself and my fellow students the most: search engine stupidity and multitasking.

Since the start of Google, students have been using the source as a quick way to get information. Oftentimes, when I am given an article to read I am skimming through it looking for key words or main ideas, which I can search for later to get more information. Nicholas Carr makes a good point that Google is making us stupid, because we no longer have to memorize or maintain the information that is learned. Students are relying on the ease and immediacy of the information they get from search engines, so they don’t worry about keeping that information in their brains.

Additionally, the ability to multitask is on a decline. In the workforce employees are expected to do more than one thing at a time, but this is something that is no longer being taught to our upcoming employees. For example, being in class while using your phone is a distraction, not multitasking. It’s almost as if students need to stay connected, but while staying connected they cannot concentrate on the class. Clay Shirky counteracts with a no phone policy. This forces students to fully pay attention in class. Although this can be frustrating for students, it’s a great way for students to maintain their attentiveness throughout the class.

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Technology has become such an integral part of our everyday lives. Additionally, social media has taken that attachment to technology to the next level. With this increased attachment, it is argued that social media, specifically Facebook, is making users lonely. How? With the incessant need for likes and approval by subscribers and followers is taking over our feelings, and creating this sense of loneliness when our expectations are not met.

The article “Facebook making us lonely?” by Stephen Marche talks about how the connection to social media is making our ability to connect to humans more difficult. This social media connection is making its users more introverted and isolated, because all the human contact they need is through their technology. However, Eric Kilienberg’s “Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely” contradicts Marche’s article by explaining that there isn’t evidence to support that people are becoming more lonely because of social media. Additionally, “The Intimacy of Anonymity” suggests that users sharing too much of their personal life on Facebook makes if feel like a reality TV show. The search for approval and “likes” create the social media culture that is over-sharing.

Technology has proved to be an important part of our history’s evolution, but social media is taking that evolution to a level that makes people think the users are lonely. Facebook is a good example of an outlet that allows people to share their personal lives to everyone that follows them. However, that ease has caused users to over share their information, and seek for approval through social media rather than in person. This concept is what makes people believe social media users are isolated from human contact, and are connected to technological devices that supply us with media connection.

“The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet”

Social media can be a major benefit in many aspects of life. However, there can also be a dangerous, revealing side to being active on social media. Daniel J. Solove’s book “The Future of Reputation” highlights the negative side to social media.

The story began on a train in South Korea, when a woman’s dog pooped on the train. The woman was asked to pick up the feces by the other passengers, but refused. Upon her rude refusal, the situation moved to cyberspace and became ugly. “Within house, she was labeled gae-ttong-nyue (dog shit girl) and her picture and parodies were everywhere.” Later, the story moved to the mainstream media, which then became national news.

Unfortunately, this is not the first or only situation that blew up, though not a major issue. The sharing of personal information online has become more and more popular. “These fragments of information won’t fade away with time, and they can readily by located by any curious individual.” Solove even claims that “the free flow on information on the Internet can make us less free.”

Information was not always so readily accessible. It used to be more scattered, forgettable, and localized, as explained by Solove. Now, it is permanent and in the “teenage” or “adolescent” stage of its life; “brash, uninhibited, unruly, fearless, experimental, and often not mindful of the consequences of its behavior.” Had it not been for the connection to the internet, the dog poop girl would have been easily forgotten, but people used the power of the internet to “enforce a norm.” Since the dog poop girl did not exhibit a social norm, people took it upon themselves to correct the problem passive aggressively.

“Many of us today—especially children and teenagers—are spending more of our lives on the internet.” Today’s society is focused on the connection to internet, and it is often the first place to go when an outrageous situation happens in public. However, the information never goes away. In the situation of the dog poop girl, she will forever be known as the girl who did not pick up the poop from her dog on the train. This goes for others who post personal information of themselves or others. That information stays forever and could make or break their reputation.

“It Takes a Village to Find a Phone”

It is hard to judge how connected we are to others through our phones. The reality of human connectivity is evident in the reading It Takes a Village to Find a Phone, when a woman, Sasha, left her phone in the back seat of a cab in New York City. She searched for the phone, or Sidekick, offering a reward for its return because it held important information for the woman. However, after a few days without an answer, Sasha purchased a new phone and was able to transfer the information from her old phone to her new one.

The turn in the story is, when the information was transferred, Sasha saw that the person who had her phone was using it to take pictures The Sasha’s friend, Evan, took over and confronted the girl with the old phone. He created a webpage, after the girl refused to give back the phone and made rude, threatening remarks. The webpage was created to raise awareness and deliver a message on “the etiquette of returning people’s lost belongings.”

Evan shared his original post on his own webpage, which was then shared by his friends and family and began vicious cycle of sharing. The word of the stolen phone spread quickly across the country. The media and New York Police caught wind of the situation, and stepped in to help Sasha and Evan with this woman.

The main reason the story blew up was because of the power of unity and connection. This particular story “demonstrates that the old limitations of media have been radically reduced…It demonstrates how a story can go from local to global in a heart-beat. And it demonstrates the ease and speed with which a group can be mobilized for the right kind of cause.” A few years ago this story would never have made such a huge impact with the media. This is a perfect example of how scarily connected to everyone around the world is.