The Drawbacks of Technological Advancement Essay Example

Since the early days of technological advancement there has been underlying questions of, have we gone too far too fast?  With every advancement there is a degree of apprehension that immediately follows. For example, Socrates expressed this concern in his “Phaedrus” when he wrote about how the invention of books makes the soul forgetful. He warned that the new generation of readers was blindly putting their trust in external written sources and that the library was responsible for promoting this notion.

During the 1890’s, the ideology that moved towards more electronic devices had taken place and developed the telegram.  A highly regarded physician at the time expressed the stance that extensive use of the technology was breeding a generation prone to mental illness.  Following with the development of the television the same stance was taken and the television was blamed for making children stop reading books and find more pleasure in being shown images rather than imagining their own stories.

In 2008 there was an article written in The Atlantic titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid” by Mr. Nicholas Carr.  It is revealed that Mr. Carr believes that there is an extent to which the internet has affected our attention span and our overall thinking.  He follows up his arguments with examples of friends’ personal accounts, various studies completed by universities as well as psychologists, noting they have witnessed the same similarities with technology. A key point does stand out, “You can Google all the facts you want, but you’ll never Google your way to brilliance” (1). Over 30 years, new technologies have been introduced that have rendered us incapable of critical thinking and reading. All this basically means is that we do not take the time to read information and think critically through the process. Instead, people turn to Google for quick answers and at times only minimally pertaining to the original topic.

Mr. Carr, at the beginning of the article, recounts a scene from the “2001: Space Odyssey.  Sad and crucial when the supercomputer Hal is being taken apart, he starts to beg for his life as each piece is being removed. Hal claims that his mind is going and that he can feel it. Mr. Carr references to this scene in order to show humanity is becoming more machine like and people are becoming distant from emotional responses. The difference is we are slaves to our own vices, unlike Hal who was created and dismantled by his human. In his article, he states that he feels as though something or someone has been restructuring his brain mainly remapping and reprogramming it. This is because of our reduced attention span and critical thinking our minds have adjusted and become used to our current technology.

We have traded our gained intelligence for the hollowness of the internet. We have come to believe Google can provide all the answers; therefore, there is no need to make the extra effort of doing thorough research. We no longer really try to understand, comprehend and retain complex notions and difficult texts. In his own words”Once I was a scuba diver in a sea of words,” and “Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski” (1).   Mr. Carr compares this activity to his inability to write as complex as he once did due to a side effect of the online world. He also states that even though he retains less focus the internet provides us with a lot of useful information and he is quick to point it out.

The internet can be a great tool that provides people access to a vast amount of information quickly. Although with ease of access and websites containing flashing adds, numerous pop ups, impertinent information and hyperlinks causing attention spans wonder from the initial topic of interest.  We may appear more intellectually advanced than recent generations, however it becomes a tradeoff between finding answers with little to no outside distractions to a tool that is plagued with attention grabbing venues.  Mr. Carr argues that the more time spent online the worse his attention span becomes for reading, stating “If we’re distracted, we understand less, remember less, and learn less” (1).  

However when you really think about it ads, pop ups and hyperlinks are not really the problem.  The real issue is that the internet preys on and exposes people's thirst for knowledge while allow to moving from topic to topic with ease while losing attention and focus on the initial subject.  We have developed a shorter attention span reshaping the way people interpret and develop ideas.  While Mr. Carr comments about the malleability of the brain and the way it is being reshaped by the internet his article covers technology as a whole.  We should be cautious not to allow technology to overwhelm our lives by letting our gadgets control our lives.  Every interaction changes the way we think or perform while or brains are being trained to think a certain way there is always an opportunity to change the current path.

With fleeting attention spans and allowing the reshaping of how the brain processes information there is a degree of self-discipline that must be included with the use of technology.  For every ad, pop up or hyperlink that takes the individual off their intention path is followed by choice. While now there is a vast amounts of information that is easily accessible and at the fingertips of person searching, there is the flip side of the coin. For every bit of data that is wanted to be obtained bright lights and distractors provoke the individual to stray and move towards the programmers’ will. Nicholas Carr informs readers that the growing bond without technological advancements offers much but also creates dependency. The individual is in control of what route is followed, but is ease of vast information worth losing attention spans and critical thinking aspects?



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