Is the Internet making us stupid?



The other day an oversized platform suggested to me a web series called “How to Get Away With Murder,” based on my recent opinions. I immediately turned to my trusted advisor, Internet Research, to read reviews on the series. As I started typing in the title of the series, the search engine immediately gave me a list of choices to select: “how to get pregnant”, “how to get your period immediately”, “how to get a COVID vaccination certificate -19 ”and soon. I was drawn to the third choice because I had not yet obtained the certificate.

After several minutes of searching and clicking multiple tabs on the COVID certificate, hyperlinks on the state’s pandemic control measures, images on statistics on the next waves of COVID, the mandatory website of the WHO and several COVID conspiracy theories, I realized I had forgotten my original intention to search. It was like walking through a cavalcade of many paintings without being able to concentrate on any. It’s the same experience you get on a guided tour where you get a glimpse of everything, but nothing completely about anything.

Has the internet made us less intelligent? Possible, because it hinders our thinking process. The Internet invites and suggests a lot of things, but blinds us with its offers. Before even thinking, he shows us several options to choose from. Often these choices are the most popular or those selected based on our previous research. Our previous picks are usually our favorites, which makes us follow the trails like rats following Pied Piper. Even if we stick to watching one, the nefarious “autoplay” feature automatically plays the next video before we even recognize it. Or the next episode of the web series plays out in seconds before we even come out of the trance. As if a chef were sending us successively our favorite delicacies.

The artificial intelligence of video channels, search engines, social networks and OTTs does not allow us to think. After a while, like a master of the mind, he decides what we want and what we need to watch out for. Political affiliations, community hatred, regional and religious prejudices, fan base and racial prejudice are often promulgated through these artificial intelligence networks on social media, resulting in outrage and polarization.

The other feature of the Internet that can hamper our intellectual growth is its plethora of information. It is in fact a paradox. While the internet provides a huge repository of information to build our knowledge, I think our intellect is limited to what we can look up on our smartphones, at that time. Internet feeds information with the spoon but do we assimilate all the information? This is similar to finding the address of a particular place. Previously, we used to find our way through the many roads by creating a map in our brain. Now, smart maps have challenged us geographically. We no longer bother to remember directions to a particular location. We follow what the app teaches us to do. Now, without the app, many of us feel lost and disabled.

Knowledge is the accumulation of information and intelligence uses this knowledge effectively. The brain retains the knowledge acquired by linking neural pathways, which are reinforced by linking different information. The more relatable and repeated a piece of information becomes, it becomes strongly wired into our brain, forcing us to remember the information and use it at the appropriate time. But now we hardly burden our brains with such challenges, and we increasingly depend on technology for even simpler things. Remember the days when we used to remember the phone numbers of at least 10 family members. Now if we can know the spouse’s phone number, that’s a feat. Simple math functions have been removed from our routine and have been stylishly replaced by the smartphone calculator. How many birthdays of our loved ones do we remember now? The pleasure we get from looking forward to this day and wishing them on the roll of 12 is unprecedented. Now we are invited by calendar apps and social media reminders, and wishing a friend a birthday has become mechanical.

How well do we multitask in our brain? People of the older generation are said to be doing multiple to-dos in their brains while performing a task. But now we keep a to-do list app, multiple alarms, email reminders, periodic pop-ups, automated payments, and more. for everything, while keeping the brain in slow motion. Writing a good email or article is no longer intuitive and thoughtful, but motivated by the suggestions of the AI-driven messaging app. The built-in dictionary “automatically corrects” our mistakes and we hardly think about the grammatical or spelling correction we made. While perfecting the Artificial Intelligence of our smartphones, our intellectual growth remains slowed.

The greatest human strength that has allowed us to evolve much faster than other animals is the brain. It is a supercomputer with an unparalleled ability to take information, assimilate it, correlate it, retain it and express it. In recent times, the work of the brain has slowly been taken over by the Internet and smartphones. They have become like our outer brain – a hard drive with information in hand. The internet “knows” more about us than we know about ourselves based on our search history and opinions on social media. He knows our likes and dislikes and feeds us more of our “likes”, making us pass to the other side. It does not allow us to reflect, to think and to act. I fear that we are losing our intelligence and knowledge to the Internet. Over the past two decades, the Internet has given a huge boost to human communication and technical growth in all areas of our life. But like any other technological innovation, we need to understand the pitfalls of the internet before it renders our brains redundant.

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