Today, many people find themselves using the Internet for almost everything. In fact, our society would probably have a very difficult time without access to the Web. It is an easy and convenient way to find what we are looking for, but has humanity become dependent on it? Has it turned our brains into mesh? Some say the modern generation is lazy, and the Internet is to blame for this. Contrary to that argument, access to technology has tremendously improved our world in many ways. The real concern arises from Nicholas Carr’s, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Carr grabs the attention of most, if not all, the viewers of this title, as he uncovers his highly critical article of the Internet’s effect on cognition. Carr employs numerous strategies to influence the attitudes, actions, and beliefs of his audience. Interestingly, he doesn’t particularly aim his writing to a specific age group or a distinct group of people; he broadens his article because it can apply to anyone. Carr uses Google as a reference intentionally because it is so well known across the Nation.
This clever technique grasps the viewers’ attention because who wouldn’t want to know if Google is making us stupid? Carr utilizes many captivating patterns throughout his argument, many of which include the constant switching from fact to fiction, thorough evidence, cause and effect, and strong opinions. Carr starts his article with a bizarre quote from the movie, “Space Odyssey.” The quote describes the character’s fear of his distorted mind, as it is literally being disconnected from the Internet. This method engages the audience because he manipulates an amusing fact from the movie into an idea in which the Internet will take over. He quickly follows this thought-provoking idea by an opinion. Carr relates himself to the character by expressing his feelings as if “someone, or something has been tinkering with [his] brain [and] reprogramming the memory” (Carr 2). This certain stylistic pattern of fact and fiction he presents compels the audience to wonder if they possibly feel the same way.
These different approaches to the article occur fairly early, which is a brilliant stylistic pattern used to keep the audience’s attention and begin to persuade them to agree with Carr. He uses his friends as an example, claiming that, “many say are having similar experiences” (Carr 2). Consequently, it is impractical to decide whether or not this is the truth, but most would believe that Carr is stating a fact. Using this strategy of influence, he entices the audience to believe what he and his friends believe. Once again, Carr relates himself to the audience trying to assemble a strong argument against the progress of the Internet. Instead of strictly stating facts and endless information to back up his point, he tries to personally connect with the reader. He reveals what he believes the Internet has done to him by saying, “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski” (Carr 2). This expression reveals that he is admitting to a personal negative impact of the becoming of the Internet, rather than in the general sense. This expression displays Carr’s feelings of despair and concern about this situation.
His sentimental act impacts the audience, causing them to almost become angry toward the development of the Internet. Carr continues to execute his outlook on this situation by proving his credibility through many different scientists and studies. Carr names numerous scientists who have done much research on the topic and who have strong attitudes and concerns about the wellbeing of society in the present and future. He mentions facts from a study in London, which indicate that readers no longer use traditional reading methods, and no longer digest the material that they read. He also articulates an interesting fact about how a person’s genes and his or her way of reading are not related, suggesting that reading skills can easily be influenced. It is apparent that the approach Carr takes implies that if his personal and nostalgic standpoint isn’t convincing enough, other professional’s views will be more persuasive. Another compelling example he exploits is the invention of the mechanical clock- when the world suddenly began to think in numerical segments of time. He states that this may have started the intellectual technology issue when society started “operating like clockwork,” and today “like computers” (Carr 5).
Carr aims for the audience to believe that, “…the clock disassociated time from human events and helped create the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences” (Carr 5). Such an unsettling theory that adheres to the concept of cause and effect, which helps originate the belief that technology is transforming the minds of mankind. Throughout this argument, it is clear that Carr believes the Internet has detrimental effects on cognition, diminishing the capacity for concentration and contemplation. He enforces that the plasticity of the human brain is adapting to a form of skimming activity versus in-depth reading. Carr also says, “The internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is submersing most of our other intellectual technologies” (Carr 5). He applies strong words to his work such as “immeasurably”, “powerful”, and “submersing,” proposing that this technology is a true threat. His use of words also creates a stern, extreme tone to his work.
Furthermore, Carr provides an abundant amount of information about the founders of Google and their future plans. With this, the audience is now confused to whether or not they should agree to the new ideas. After reading most of Carr’s article, the majority of the audience probably second-guesses the idea of the development of the Internet, particularly Google. Reevaluating the Internet is Carr’s exact purpose for his argument. He succeeds by virtually threatening the audience that one day Google will have the power to take over an individual’s mind. Carr takes a drastic turn in this argument, and does something not many critical writers would do: he doubts himself. Right as Carr finally proves his point, proceeds to refer to himself as a “worrywart.” He completely criticizes the meaning of his entire argument- maybe the aspect of the Internet isn’t such a bad thing, after all. This has the audience in utter confusion, leaving them to make the decision on their own. Although, it is still apparent that Carr believes the Internet is drastically revamping our brains, and he makes note of that when he describes society evolving into “pancake people.”
Carr uses one last strong connection with the audience at the end of this article by referring to the movie mentioned in the beginning of the article. He states, “It is our intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence,” (Carr 8) leaving the audience to question whether or not Google is actually making us stupid. As voiced many times throughout this essay, Nicholas Carr aims to prove that the Internet is tinkering with our brains. His article was published in 2008, and technology has only continued to advance since then. Today, there are several new modern devices that are used to do extraordinary things to better the world.
However, the passage of time has not affected his original purpose. It is still proven that in this generation, most Internet suffers unfortunately have shorter attention spans than before the Internet. Carr’s argument is still valid, although society seems to have a decent grip on this situation. It isn’t the Internet that is making us stupid; it is the way the Internet is utilized. The effectiveness of Carr’s argument is powerful, he does a phenomenal job at validating the diminishing of concentration, and some readers may have entirely changed their beliefs after reading it. However, despite the facts, research, studies and interviews, some remain skeptical, as he also did within his own justification. Carr’s brilliant writing techniques ultimately leave the audience to think for themselves, as he purposely ends his argument with an intimidating threat that the Internet will perish our own intelligence.