The Internet is Altering the Human Mind

article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” written by Nicholas Carr introduces the
idea that the Internet is ultimately corrupting the human mind. In the
contemporary world, technological advances are quickly expanding which is
leading to the replacement of conventional activities. These changes tend to
alter the human mind in such a way that the way of doing things is different
compared to the times before the introduction of technology. The internet as a
whole is causing the human mind to transform itself entirely, individual’s
behavior and manner of doing things being altered, and people questioning if
the theory of scientific management, also known as Taylorism.

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Nicholas Carr’s writing, there are many examples of people experiencing
symptoms of their mind changing entirely. Carr refers to himself when
introducing this idea as he writes, “Over the past few years I’ve had an
uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my
brain.” (735). Soon after this reference, Carr begins to justify why he
believes he feels as if his mind is changing. The proposition suggested is
essentially informing readers that the many years humans have depended on
technology is taking a toll on how humans function. The human mind is not able
to comprehend lengthy books, or articles longer than a few pages. Carr backs up
this claim with his own experiences, as well as a quote from Bruce Friedman; “I
now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article
on the web or in print.” (737). Bruce Friedman also explains how he has
experienced a change in his mental habits due to relying on the Internet. A
five-year-long study done by the University College London included a close
examination of the time students spent on a web-page that included an article
and concluded that students spent a short amount of time on the web-page,
suggesting that students were “skimming” rather than reading the work. “But a
recently published study of online research habits, conducted by scholars from
University College London,” Carr writes “suggests that we may well be in the
midst of a sea change in the way we read and think.” (738).

way humans behave in the present world is yet another claim Carr supports
throughout his article. Humans became dependent on technology as early as when
the mechanical clock was invented. While this device is not as complex as
today’s technology, the creation of the clock was just the beginning of the
human mind being unable to form independent perceptions. Carr refers to Lewis
Mumford as he continues on about the mechanical clock: “The “abstract framework
of divided time” became “the point of reference for both action and thought”.”
(741). Additionally, Carr writes “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep,
to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.”
(741). The mechanical clock has created the current social construct for human
beings. What is considered a normal time to do tasks throughout life revolves
around the creation of the clock; which has formed what has become normal over
time. The human mind is so malleable, that it has become performing similarly
to how computers operate.

Winslow Taylor was the young man who created the theory called Taylorism. Carr
uses Taylorism as a prime example of how the Internet is affecting the human
brain. This theory began when Taylor began an experiment in the Midvale Steel
plant, which consisted of a stopwatch and dedication. Taylor approached a group
of factory workers and studied each task they completed all while timing them.
Then, Taylor gave each worker an algorithm to follow precisely; he claimed that
this way of doing their job would work better. Carr explains the purpose of
Taylor’s study in the following quote: “Once his system was applied to all acts
of manual labor, Taylor assure his followers, it would bring about a
restructuring not only of industry but of society, creating a utopia of perfect
efficiency.” (744). Taylorism is still present today and is beginning to
justify just how the Internet is altering humans. Algorithms are used within a
part of the Internet called Google to perfectly aid their users’ needs. Carr
proves that using the search engine Google is a perfect example of Taylorism,
just used in a different aspect of humans. Carr explains, “What Taylor did for
the work of the hand, Google is doing for work of the mind.” (744). Similar to
how Taylor approached the workers, Google is doing the same for its users. Carr
refers to an interview with one of the founders of Google, Sergey Brin, “In a
2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s
information directly attached to your brain, you’d be better off.”.” (745).
What Brin said is very similar to Taylor’s attitude during his study, and it is
concerning. Carr expresses his feelings toward Brin’s remark here: “Still,
their easy assumption that we’d all “be better be” if our brains were supplemented,
or even replaced, by an artificial intelligence is unsettling.” (746).

summary, as proved in Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”,
the Internet has changed how humans function altogether. The human mind has
become so dependent on quick information that their minds have changed
drastically, resulting in being unable to focus on large writings. Another
claim brought upon the article is that people are not able to conceive their
own perceptions due to many of technological advances. Lastly, the idea that
Taylorism could be a possible theory on how the human mind is changing. Carr’s
article shows just how the Internet is beginning to diminish human’s senses and
way of life.  


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