Can the Internet Change the Way We Think?
Is the Internet changing the way human beings think?Â Has using the Internet started to change the actual structure of the brain?Â These and other related questions are currently being explored by some of the world's top researchers.Like any other muscle,Â the brain gets flabby and stiff when not properly exercised. However, through regular exercise and training it becomes more flexible, versatile and strong (Greenblatt, 773-796).Â TheÂ Internet can be in some ways,Â analogous to a heavy training machine for the brain.
Weight machinery is direct and facilitating; it supports an individual's quest to perform tasks while offering challenging resistance. However, if one chooses to mount a treadmill, yet not engage inÂ the physical action of exercising, little or nothing will be accomplished.Â Â Utilized properly, the Internet can serve this same purpose.Â In order to gain a true advantage of using the Internet, one must exercise his or her critical thinking skills to determine the authenticity and usefulness of the material thatÂ one reads online.Â Used frivolously, the Internet can logically have a detrimental affect on one's thinking, just as remaining sedentary can adversely affect one's body.
Students who preform a search engine query and do not find what they are seeking can experience shifts in their thinking.Â (Greenblatt, 773-796)Â Search engines provide unlimited information.Â However acquiringÂ knowledge is a function of the brain.Â It is up to the student to assimilate the information found on the Internet,Â and to convert it into knowledge.Â Â
Today, admission to best libraries and archives is no longer advised to the same degree that it once was,Â since these entitiesÂ have continued with increased digitization of their archives. Jeremiads exist on the Internet,Â claimingÂ that the Internet resonates the death knell of reading.Â However, it should be noted that people have continued reading, albeit online,Â with the same consistently.Â (Greenblatt, 773-796). While in constant flux, the Internet offers a wealthÂ of information in the form ofÂ documents, books and images.Â As long asÂ free access to the InternetÂ exists, itÂ can be instrumental to education and a tool to the attainment of knowledge.
In his article in the Atlantic Monthly, Biologist Nicholas CarrÂ (2008) asks, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?â€Â Â He points out the the Internet has become the conduit for the majority of information that is currently accessible to people all over the world.Â Carr points to evidence that he believes indicatesÂ that the Â Internet is remapping the neural circuitry and reprogramming the memory.Â Carr states, â€˜â€˜My mind isn't going â€“ so far as I can tell â€“ but it's changing. I'm not thinking the way I used to think’’Â Carr introducesÂ the idea thatÂ the omnipresent impact of the Internet imposes itself substantially on ourÂ cognitive procedures.Â He is of the opinion that our over-reliance on Internet technology not only changes the structure of ourÂ brain, but also the ways in which we think.Â (Carr (2008-06-12)Â Retrieved 2008-11-01.)
The new style of learning via the Internet has lead us away from the common methods of past learning methods that included theÂ rote memorization of data.Â Because search engines will almost instantaneously retrieve any information that an individual may need, rote memorization is no longer needed.Â The Internet hasÂ turned into aÂ prosthesis for our communal memory,Â and has thus changed our brains and the way we think.Â Though manyÂ scientists have dismissed Carr’s concerns asÂ panic that can be associated with new technology, there is something to be said about changes in the way people learn since the introduction of the Internet.Â
According to Carr, the contemporary neuroscience that exposes brain plasticity,Â depicts that how our daily habits can result in modifications to our neuronal structures.Â (Carr (2008-06-12)Â Retrieved 2008-11-01).Â For example, illiterate people differ in brain structure to literate.Â IfÂ past technologies such asÂ printing can shape human brains, then certainly it isÂ reasonable to presume that the current humanÂ addiction to the Internet should do the same thing by changing the way peopleÂ think.
The Pew Research Centre Internet & American Life study (2005) suggested that whileÂ some believe that the mounting environmental complications reflect that an there are more and moreÂ people whoÂ require the Internet to steer theirÂ minds, they argue that we may be missing some of the capability requiredÂ for meditative attention that existed in the earlier print culture.Â Â According to the study, individualsÂ are gaining new and essential methods of working.Â (The Pew Global Attitudes Project. Retrieved 6 September 2011)
In his article titled,Â Get Smarter, in the Atlantic Monthly (2009)Â Researcher Jamais Casio says,Â "The problem is not that we have too much data at our disposal, but that our tools and equipment thatÂ we use to manage it are still in an incomplete state.".Â Casio statesÂ that the doubt that we have at present aboutÂ Internet learning will end with time.Â He views the Internet,Â not as a problem,Â but as the beginning of a multitude of learning solutions that can change the brain's actual structure.
Cascio asserts that theÂ Internet assistsÂ humankind in the development ofÂ links between facts, ideas, data, and information, and that results in a more incorporated thought process.Â The ubiquity of information and facts on the Internet enhances a kind of liquidity in human thinking.Â Thinking becomes moreÂ active and less reflective. What wasÂ at one time obligatory to collect all obtainable fragments of data to bring together a structure of information,Â now involves eliminating or disregarding redundant data in order to disclose the form of knowledge concealed within. Indeed creativity is being achieved by destruction instead of assembly.Â
In conclusion, it is evident thatÂ Internet usage affects our thinking.Â However,Â much depends uponÂ the manner in which it is used.Â The bottom line is that everything a human being does, in some way, changes his or her brain.Â Â Each thought and experience effectsÂ the continual alteration of the neural networks.Â While it can be stated that the Internet changes one's brain, the same thing can be said for singing in a church choir or washing the dishes.Â Regardless of what one does or thinks, traces of that activity are left in the brain.Â The jury is still out on the degree to which the Internet changes the brain.Â This isÂ a quest left to future researchers.Â