I Am A Not So Stupid Under Abundant Media User

The age of new technology has caused many to worry, study and solve some major issues or ideas. We see the major ways that technology and specifically the internet has changed society. It saves time, makes the world smaller and shares information efficiently and effectively. However, with these new qualities come some sacrifices. Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirley have taken the time to study the anxieties the internet has brought.

Nicholas Carr wrote “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” He said that we live in a world where computers have come to replace all other technologies. The web has changed how we read and take in information. Our brains are malleable to the world around us. We have created a new form of reading where people like short synopsis and fast information rather than long articles or novels. Even traditional media has changed and adapted to these new reading needs. Carr concludes that our own intelligence flattens into artificial intelligence.

Nicholas Carr has a lot of anxieties about how we are changing due to the internet. He sees these changes as extremely negative. He goes as far as to say that we are losing sight of our culture and what we find important. He highlights the fact that people no longer want to read books and are losing interest in “War and Peace.” This is a startling idea and should make you stop in your tracks and look at our media usage and how it affects you.

However, Clay Shirky has a strong rebuttal to Carr’s article when he writes “Why Abundance is Good: A Reply to Nick Carr”. Shirley believes that Carr’s anxieties are ill placed and offer little resolutions. He also points out that the internet did not change reading culture because TV did in the 70s. The internet actually brought reading back. Shirky remarks that the culture of literate is what is changing. Carr has a lot to say but he offers little idea on what to do and how to change the problems he has brought up. Shirky believes that the changes the internet has brought aren’t minor or really optional at this point. Shirky concludes that we can and must change and adapt the internet as we go.

Shirky also points out that we have an abundance of new media for a while because everyone is welcome to partake. But we start to learn how to filter and manipulate the content. That way it becomes in your control again. New media must be adapted and become part of the routine in an effort to make it smaller.

We could even take this one step further and delve into the article “Hyper and Deep Attention: the Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes” by Katherine Hayles. Where she discusses the idea that we are living in a time where different generations are wired differently based off their media consumption. Older generations are more inclined to lean more towards deep attention and younger generations are more inclined to have hyper attentions. We must learn how the two interact and affect behavior and knowledge. She delves into the idea of studying what technology is doing to us.

These three authors have concluded that technology and the internet has changed the way we behave and interact with the world. However, they are coming about it from different angles and with different conclusions. The basis behind these thoughts may be the same but are they correct?

I see technology as something that we need to control. I understand how the authors could be concerned and study this issue. It is alarming that Shirky has people in his life that can no longer read novels. It should scare us that Carr sees the way we read changing. You cannot ignore the research that Hayles talks about.

This doesn’t mean that we need to blindly listen to this. My first response was to turn inward and see how I was feeling and behaving when it comes to media. I did have a hard time reading Carr’s long article online and found myself getting antsy for the end. Carr would probably argue that this is because the internet has changed the way I receive information and read. But I would argue that this could simply be the fact that I was not all that interested in his article.

Earlier that day I spent over an hour reading the novel “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. Let me tell you, I could not put that thing down. (If you have not read this novel, go pick up a copy for everyone you know). The novel is about the race issues in the south and a real life “To Kill a Mockingbird” trial. I will continue to pick up that book until I finish it. Meaning, I do not have a problems reading for long interrupted times when I am absorbing something that I care about. My restlessness when reading comes when the subject feels unimportant to me or dull.

Sure I am just one person and I cannot speak for everyone. But I choose to control my media usage. I am able to read good old fashioned books, long political articles on the web and catch up on my TV shows in my free time.

Hayles would argue that I am from a middle generation who has seen the effects of new media but I was not raised with it in my face every second. This is true. However, I am in college, growing up and I am now in charge of my own consumption. I do not have parents or teachers limited my time. I have complete freedom and I am able to self-regulate.

When we say that media is changing the way we read, think, interact and even talk, that is us giving away power to media. This is a powerless statement that we all have the potential to make. Instead we must control the object. We as a population created media and we have the ability to change it, adapt to it and even cut it out.

I personally find a lot of value in the online world. I have been able to stay connected with people like never before. I lived in Rome for a few months and I was regularly able to see my friends and family smiling at me via Skype. I was even able to talk to a (not so deserving) ex-boyfriend every single day.

Media created a world that was not accessible to us for thousands of years. But this does not mean that it must become the world. It should be used in a way that is comfortable to each user and turned off when necessary.

Finding the correct balance may be harder for some people. But since this is new, it is natural that some over usage may happen. Also, since this is new to older generations any usage may seem excessive, because this is a foreign tool that had no place in their life before. Once it becomes normal, usage will be more normalized, and we will be powerful people who take control and do not let the technology control us.