Is the advancement of technology aiding us or burdening us with the loss of our common skills? Recently, there has been such an immense boom in technology that it’s rather frightening to see. For example, when I watch automobile commercials, cars are being advertised as having better and quicker reflexes than humans, claiming these ‘smarter’ cars will keep us safer. Those commercials lead us to think that a computerized machine is a superior driver to humans. It seems there is a race for companies and businesses to produce anything that will make our lives easier, in other words anything that will allow us to think or do less. The advancement of the internet, online social medias, and smartphones have come to play such a crucial role in our lives because let’s face it, they are very efficient. Although, we have come to depend on the advantages of the resources, the accessibility, and the efficiency of these new technologies, there are also some detrimental disadvantages that come along with the regular use of these tools.
New technologies have become such an important resource in our everyday lives. As Nicolas Carr declares, “For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online . . . the Web has been a godsend to me” (314). Carr’s statement comes to show how much our generation admires the value of technology. For instance, my IPhone has become the most frequently used tool in my life. In fact, with so many easily obtainable applications all the information I need is quickly available. Let’s say I’m stuck in traffic and I need to know the fastest way to my destination, my first thought and instinct would be to reach for my phone and check the Waze app to find a shortcut. Smartphones can now act as maps, computers, calculators, alarm clocks, credit cards, and so much more, with out a doubt they make my life easier. However, this great feature of smartphones also comes at a price, we are starting to depend on our phones too much. On the other hand, if my grandfather was stuck in the same situation his first reaction would be to either turn the radio on to the traffic station or to read the traffic bill boards ahead of him. Unlike me, if my phone was not working, my grandfather would easily be able to find a solution to the problem. To further demonstrate the dependence on technology, a poll was taken during our English class and only four students out of twenty-four still use alarm clocks in the morning. This means that 82% of our class including myself, rely on our smartphones to wake us up in the morning. While smartphone capability makes many tasks effortless and quick, in contrast we are counting on them to do too much for us.
Another example of a frequently used resource in our everyday lives is the Internet. As Carr points out “A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after” (314). The internet and Google are now our go-to option whenever we are in need of any data. Although the internet makes almost all information easily available to us within seconds, consequently the internet is starting to think for us. By cause of constant use, “The Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through [our] eyes and ears and into [our] mind” (315) meaning that, only the knowledge supplied to us through the Net is what we think about. Because we are so desperate to easily find an answer we direct ourselves toward the internet which contains what we are looking for, but at the same time the internet is acting as our brain supplying us with train of thoughts and slowly taking away our ability and desire to perform critical thinking and analysis.
The Internet, due to its accessibility is our holy grail supplier of intelligence. Never before has so much knowledge been at our fingertips. On the contrary, how do we know what is being supplied to us is actually factual rather than being biased or based on an opinion? Referring back to Carr’s previous statement, whatever is given to us on the internet in the first few links is usually what we deem to be our thoughts on any given subject. We depend on the facts being supplied to us to be real and not based off of others opinions. So much information is easily accessible through the internet, but if the first link that pops up is the only one we read about and it is biased we may start to change our way of thinking based on the opinions we read on a certain website. To illustrate let’s take The Washington Post for example, in their case they tend to lean more towards the Liberal side, so if the only website we used to research was this one we would be influenced to start thinking Liberal policies as well. So even though the internet is a great resource for research, we may easily be influenced by others people’s opinions instead of actual facts.
Furthermore, text messaging is so time efficient that it is becoming second nature for us to send a text whenever we need to speak to someone. As Elaine from Sherry Turkle’s article proves by stating “So many people hate the telephone, its all texting and messaging” (373). Texting allows us to quickly talk to someone if we are unable to speak at the moment. This very positive trend comes with the disadvantage that texting is being so overused, causing us to lose basic human communication skills. People now dread phone calls viewing them as awkward and pointless, most will ignore a call and send a text instead because now, people feel they only “have control over the conversation, and more control over what [they] say” (377) when they are texting. This new method of quick method of paraphrased communication is causing us to lose our communication and writing skills because now we don’t actually have to verbally communicate with someone.
As I have stated above, there are many aspects of new technology that are changing the way we think and speak. The internet and smartphones are constantly advancing to make our lives easier, but at the same time they are also hurting us by slowly allowing us to lose our common problem solving skills, ability and desire for critical thinking, and basic communication skills. This has put so much into perspective for me, allowing me to see the evolution in my own thoughts and writing based off these everyday used tools of the net, and smartphones.
Graff, Gerald. “They Say / I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (Third High School Edition), 3rd Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, 20150201. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.