Did Internet Make Me Stupid?

On: September 13, 2010
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About Fei An Tjan
After finishing a Bachelor's in communications and Information I wasn't quite happy with, I decided to soak up some more life experience elsewhere before starting my Master. In Bolivia I worked for the newspaper of Santa Cruz (El Deber) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de arte contemporáneo). After six months, I changed location to Costa Rica to do a media internship with a volunteer travel agency. Here I gained more practical experience in the blogosphere, social media, and design which all laid the basis for my newly triggered interest in New Media. When I came back in the Netherlands, I signed up for the MA New Media and hope to finish this one happily ever after.


Working in a coffee bar gives me the advantage of having access to many different newspapers. In quiet hours I try to read several articles from at least three newspapers in order to get a more balanced view of what’s happening globally. The last weeks though, there was one name in particular that sprung to mind: Nicholas Carr.

As a student New Media, I was attracted to the title which often contained the word Internet and  I ended up reading a number of articles on this celebrity. Internet makes you stupid, was the message. We apparently can no longer keep our focus for more than an hour due to the multitasking we’re so used to on the Internet. One of my friends drew some attention to the fact that it was logic the papers would discuss this article as Internet was one of newspaper’s biggest competitors, nevertheless, from that moment on I kept on wondering if this case would apply to me.
Does Internet makes you stupid?

The shocking conclusion of this all was that I indeed couldn’t remember the last time I’d read a book! All the attempts I had made during the last year resulted in well… nothing really. Carr seemed to have made his point, multitasking seemed to have slipped into my system without noticing and replaced concentration. Then I started thinking that it wasn’t necessarily the fact that I couldn’t concentrate for longer than an hour, moreover that my social life was a lot more hectic and bustling than it was a few years ago. When I have to, I can still set myself to it and focus. Isn’t it a bit blunt to state that we simply get ‘stupid’ from Internet?  By stating this, people will automatically start thinking that they indeed don’t read books anymore and multitask a lot more. As a result agreeing with Carr that the Internet does indeed make you stupid.  But even if there was a change of mind, what does it really matter? If I remember well, Marshall Mc Luhan already put forward the idea that new media are much more than innocent means to communicate and that they can change our world view (( in: Lister, M et. al. (2003) New Media A Critical introduction. Routledge, Oxon)). That certainly counts for the Internet.

So even if the Internet did change our minds, we should ask ourselves if that’s really a problem. Shouldn’t we think of it more as an evolutionary shift that we should accept, take advantage of and work with instead of trying to counteract and criticize?

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