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“It is shortchanging our intellect if you believe everything is just a google search away.” — Nicholas Carr
Internet is changing our brains.
The world we live in is hyper connected. A lot information is just a google search away. Hundreds of thousands of content are created every single day. Billions of emails sent per day. You won’t even be able finish YouTube videos uploaded a day in your entire lifetime.
A google search typically yields millions of web results. We typically read a few articles and start forming an idea of what’s happening. So, have you ever questioned if the top few results are manipulated by SEO experts and therefore the content you googled were ‘false’? The first few results may not be the absolute truth. Same goes for news publications (countries’ news censorship) and social media. It’s content are carefully crafted for the mass public, think public relations.
Studies show that the average person spends 50mins on Facebook every single day. If you sleep for 8hrs, work for 8hrs, spend 2hrs on basic survival and hygiene like eating and bathing, 50mins of Facebook time is 13% of your free time. That’s not even counting commute time which the average person would have. If the average person spends 13% of their free time on Facebook, with the recent rise of fake news, how do they form an educated and informed opinion?
Disclaimer: I am not against the plethora of information available on the internet. It serves us well. It helps us to connect with people all over the world. Thus making everyone even closer, and humanity a little better.
Ask yourself honestly, when was the last time you spent time doing nothing, without getting bored?
When was the last time you spent some time daydreaming?
When was the last time you read a book without distractions? Enjoyed a good book without the constant buzz of notifications?
And when was the last time you had an opinion without googling for answers?
When was the last time you questioned the source of information? Be it news, books, articles, podcasts, MOOCs, Youtube tutorials, messages circulated via chat apps, etc. You have been well informed about the rise of fake news and how it is being contained at the moment. Even for mass media, sometimes news publications are politically controlled too. Do you believe everything you read, especially online?
Depending on where you are and where you get your source of news, it is really important to think about the relevance, validity, context, and accuracy of the content.
Nicholas then proposed these key points to practice:
- Pay attention
- Control your mind
- Think conceptually
- Think critically
- Think creatively
How much of your opinions are formed based on the information you consume? How much do you consume? Are your opinions merely opinions or they are facts? Don’t confuse opinions vs facts.
The 5 key points requires years of practice. If you would like, please feel free to deep dive into specific techniques. But before you do, may I suggest that you write them down, find a place to relax or go for a walk, and ponder about it — whether are you practicing them.
Now, if you have reached this point, turn off the internet if you can, and get some offline time to think. Go sit somewhere without computing devices or internet.
Get some headspace. Go back to the real world. Not everything exists on the internet.