Is the internet making us more informed and less intelligent? - Factor 3

Is the internet making us more informed and less intelligent?

Knowledge is power, apparently. If that’s true then anyone with access to Google can consider themselves pretty formidable. Given that 71% of the UK population have smart phones* and almost 46% have tablets*, we should be a growing nation of geniuses.

In the olden days, when everything was black and white and you could leave your front door unlocked, if you needed to know something you either had to head to your library or your parents bookshelves to delve into the pages of the dusty, yet trusty, Encyclopaedia Britannica. This took effort.

Today, whether you’re trying to work out the name of an actress and what film you remember her in; or you’re undertaking desk research in a business sector you’re not familiar with; the internet has become our go-to information resource. It’s easily accessible and immediate. Effortless, you might say.

So much so that according to Quora, we each undertake an average of 38 online searches per month. Imagine if instead of jumping online every time you needed to know something, you had to head to your local library, find the right book, the right page with the right information and then head home. I’m guessing you’d be more discerning about the stuff you needed to know vs the nice to know?

However, with the majority of us carrying around the facility to access the internet at the drop of a hat, we can Google anything, anytime, anywhere. A conveyor belt of facts and figures moves from the handset into the brain, quickly satisfying that immediate craving for information. Given how much information we’re consuming, we should be becoming fat with intelligence and knowledge. Are we getting smarter? Do we actually retain the information we uncover? Or do we chew it up and spit it out because we know that the answers can be quickly found again?

I’m guilty of the ‘fast food’ fact culture – quick, easy and convenient I’ll Google information, acknowledge it and then my mind immediately deletes it. Retention? What retention? Is this information making me smarter or just quick at googling? Hint: Anyone that knows me will testify that it’s the latter. Would I be more likely to hold onto that information if I had to make that library trip to get it? I think so.

Peter Drucker, ‘The founder of modern management’, said that, “Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and increased constantly or it vanishes”. The brain, like any muscle, needs to be exercised; we need to think. The internet removes that need to think for ourselves – we can be told what to think, over and over again.

Well, that’s what I think anyway. But let me Google it just to be sure…

*Source: Statista

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