The digital age is destroying us by ruining our ability to concentrate?

From The Sunday Times
July 20, 2008

“Stoooopid … why the Google generation isn’t as smart as it thinks”

[quote] Extract from article only


Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, has just written The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardises Our Future. He portrays a bibliophobic generation of teens, incapable of sustaining concentration long enough to read a book. And learning a poem by heart just strikes them as dumb.
In an influential essay in The Atlantic magazine, Nicholas Carr asks: “Is Google making us stupid?” Carr, a chronic distractee like the rest of us, noticed that he was finding it increasingly difficult to immerse himself in a book or a long article – “The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”
Instead he now Googles his way though life, scanning and skimming, not pausing to think, to absorb. He feels himself being hollowed out by “the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self – evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the ‘instantly available’”.
“The important thing,” he tells me, “is that we now go outside of ourselves to make all the connections that we used to make inside of ourselves.” The attending self is enfeebled as its functions are transferred to cyberspace.


I would tend to agree. To many, if it is not on-line, it is not true. If addition, if it is over 1 paragraph it is too long.

I still try to read at least an hour each night. Of course, I grew up before and went to college at the very beginning of the information age that began in the mid 80’s. I still remember spending hours in the stacks researching information for papers.

Today, if it is not handed to them on-line in seconds, it is not worth doing. The following thread is a prime example of the dangers of the digital age:

Falling exam passes blamed on Wikipedia ‘littered with inaccuracies’

Maybe it is time to take the computers away.

Well, I would read the whole article, but I just have the time…besides, I figured out what it was saying from the title. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

Well yes, the entire Internet is making us stupid. Give Google credit for making a lot of information available. But try explaining to a student that not everything that has ever been written or researched is on-line somewhere. Real research has to be done in the stacks, not on the Internet, though it can be a useful tool.

Newspapers can’t even compete. Compare todays newspaper with a newspaper from fifty years ago. Talk about dumbed down!

And the cell phones too :mad: :mad:


Real research has to be done in the stacks


The first subject I did on returning to college was “Aboriginal Art” and for an assignment (not then having a comptuer and the internet unkown to me) I did all my research in the library or by writing off to museums and art galleries, who were wonderfully helpful in what they sent me. My tutor commented that the research was amongst the best she had ever seen and when I stated it was all ‘manual research’, she said that to study at college I would need a computer and the internet. But give me the stacks any day.
I lived for years with no car, TV, computer, cellphone or phone at all, radio or stereo…ahhhh the simple life of fond memory - it has much to recommend it and it still calls to me if I can hear that call at all with all these distractions…
The problem is if one is conditioned to distraction, which I think we are, is that to set about to ‘undo’ that conditioning can be a real ‘walk thru hell’. But if one is prepared and focused to take that actual ‘walk thru hell’ conditioning over time can be undone and replaced with new more productive conditioning. We are very resilient. The problem of couse may well be that the lack of all these distractions, as generations evolve and conditioned to distraction may see nothing profitable in living without them - it is the forgotten memory simply because it was never in memory in the first place, never experienced.

Computers and the internet are a blessing and a curse to society. On the one hand, from a research standpoint, they really do put a wealth of information at our fingertips. You do have to sift through the sources and make sure the material you read is quality, but this is also true with “manual research.”

On the other hand, there are the negatives - the amount of pornography, propaganda, hateful material, etc. is enormous and easily available to our children. And, as has been pointed out, the texting, quick emails, chatting, etc. have increased our ability to connect but lessened the quality of the connection.

It’s all in how you use it. I know I spend far too much time on this forum, for example. :slight_smile:

People also want you now at their calling 24 hours a day. The amount of times I get told ‘‘but I sent you an email’’ - like I’m supposed to be just sitting at a terminal waiting for this email to arrive and I have nothing else to do. They also want you to answer your phone 24/7 and be at the end of it should it ever ring.
It all has to be instant. So if it takes a bit of work, or reading, or research, or concentration, a lot of young people today cant be bothered.

I have quite a bit to say on this subject actually, but, yeah, well, you know …

:stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

Yep, between my Crackberry for work and a friend who seems to enjoy sending text messages (thankfully it is only one friend who does this…I find text messages annoying), I am easy to reach. I purposely leave my Crackberry behind sometimes, just so no one can bug me. :smiley:

We have a rule in this house. No phone calls after 9 pm and no phone calls before 10 am, unless it’s an emergency. If one of dd’s little friends calls before 10 I will not answer it, nor is dd allowed to answer it, unless they decided to repeatedly call. Which has happened.:mad: Then I, not dd, will answer it and tell them she will talk to them later and I make sure to actually give them a time. What I don’t understand is why parents do not teach their children phone etiquette? If someone does not answer the phone on the first time call back later. Later being 2-3 hours later not 1 minute later. :rolleyes:

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