Nicolas Carr asks the question, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
James Bowman, in retort, asks, “Is Stupid Making us Google?”
I think Bowman sums up Carr’s article pretty well in the first two paragraphs of his, so I don’t need to reiterate it here. But the two men seem to focus quite a bit just on the capacity of reading. Carr thinks the net is making us dumber because he can’t read as well, and Bowman says that people can’t read as well because our professors and mentors simply deconstruct things to show how far our society has advanced from those “patriarchal, imperialist, racist, and homophobic” aspects of those traditional societies. Ergo, why would anyone want to read if that’s all books are for?
Let me interupt there to say I use the internet quite a bit. And I don’t read it like a traditional novel, no. I have, however, read a good 11 novels and started another in the past six months, as well as a number of short stories, so I don’t think the internet can be blamed for a downfall of reading. Of course, I’m an English and Writing Major, so it’s expected. Now, Bowman may dislike that I’m not reading “the classics,” but I really don’t care much about the classical form anyway. I respect it. I know good work was done. But my avoidance of the classics is by choice because I find a lot of classical literature outside my realm of interest.
Then, Bowman goes into blaming the American educational system, responding largely to Mark Bauerlein’s book The Dumbest Generation. And I think he loses a bit of his point as the argument seems to shift away what is making people “Google” to flaws of education, and denouncing teachers and claiming that Bauerlein is right when he says that “Young people need mentors not to go with the youth flow, but to stand staunchly against it, to represent something smarter and finer than the cacophony of social life.”
Bowman seems to be focused on the passing down of tradition and culture to the next generation, and blames parents and grandparents for not caring enough and letting the problem get to this point; he hesitantly agrees with Carr through Bauerlein while saying the problem was before Google. So, honestly, what did I get out of these?
Carr can’t handle reading in different ways, Bowman is wishy-washy and unclear, people Google because it’s faster research but they Google so often because they didn’t know these things in the first place, and I’m doing fine. Google isn’t making us stupid and stupid isn’t making us Google. Perhaps less intelligent people do Google more often because they need to know more simple things. Perhaps more intelligent people Google more often because they want to research more things. But the internet is a giant database. It’s just used more often than your library because there’s porn, games, cats, and pictures of kids doing dumb things. Learn to adapt your reading style.
Also, I rarely even use Google. Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo are my search engines.