What is the internet doing to our brains? Is Google Making us Stupid? Ask anyone over the age of sixty and you’re likely to find a very different response than from someone born during the last twenty-five years. I participate in many different COPs where I have established weak ties with a variety of individuals. A good share of these links are with senior citizens, or at least those with ten years my senior. I’ve learned to leave my smart phone in my purse during dinner conversations out of respect for those unschooled in the art of multiple media tasking. I navigate carefully through a conversation that might otherwise be littered with references to the web. I consider the “technology” politics of those in my company before I proceed with my conversation. Conversely, I find it rather perplexing when “Millennials” query as to my generations ability to live without digital tools. We didn’t think about it! I am part of what is referred to as the”Sandwich Generation.” Individuals who are linked between those caring for older family members while raising younger members. I don’t think that it’s a stretch to suggest that the sandwich generation is also wedged between the technologically-terrified and the technologically-savvy members of our society.
I love technology with a passion and am ready to jump on-board with the latest program. I envision endless possibilities for educational use. Gardener Campbell, feels the passion, why can’t I? Two years ago I was asked to teach a class with an outdated textbook and a state curriculum guide as the sole tools for navigation. Google became the “just in time” resource tool that I needed. So what’s the problem with Google? How can a search engine make a person stupid? It was the lifeline that I needed to keep from being engulfed by frustration and standards of learning. Do you know understand The Aral Sea Crisis? Can you visualize the affects of salinity from 1977 until 2012? Do you even know where the sea is located? Try asking a typical adolescent student to understand the concept of human environment interaction without the use of the internet and then understand how overwhelming it is to teach WITHOUT Google!
Nicholas Carr makes a interesting case for careful consideration when he says, “Maybe I’m just a worrywart. Just as there’s a tendency to glorify technological progress, there’s a counter tendency to expect the worst of every new tool or machine.” Anyone who knows me well, knows that I was at the end of the line when mechanical skills were being handed out. My printer has sat in “broken” mode for a long time simply because I have no desire to get on-line with the service department to consider what connection isn’t working and why. The conversation with the help desk isn’t the problem just as the machine isn’t the problem. Personal copy machines are a modern marvel, as far as I am concerned. What surfaces is my lack of sophistication when encountering technological difficulties. This is what the “Geek Squad” from Best Buy does, right? However, this is an clear example of me being stupid. Stupid about technology.
Each time I consider Carr’s writing on this topic, I am reminded of the film Forrest Gump. He was repeatedly asked, “What are you stupid or something?” when encountering someone who thinks or processes information differently then him. This was my first reaction to Carr’s article. A search does not have the capacity to “make me stupid.” What could he possibly mean by this statement? I find the internet to be an exciting thrill ride on the information highway. My students are perplexed about a life with limited technological resources. When they ask, “How could you stand livin’ in them olden days?” I remind them that we were raised to find ways to occupy ourselves, to strive for balance and to recognize when enough of a good thing is enough. The law requires drivers to take a written and road test, as well as purchase insurance, in order to use an automobile. It’s a pity that we do not do the same before operating a computer and engaging the internet!
A “pancake person,” I am not, but a “sandwich person” I am! Sometimes it’s difficult to live in the state of “squish!”