Among all inventions, very few impact our day-to-day lives as much as the Internet. It has made communication easier, simplified many complex processes and, last but not least, created umpteen resources to gain wide-ranging knowledge. No one could argue against that. However, I’m afraid that what we have lost due to the Internet may soon outweigh what we have gained.
The Internet has made us buyers, and we buy thoughts – thoughts of those who are unknown to us. You can very well say that we gain so much knowledge through the Internet. Yes, gaining knowledge about something unknown is, without any doubt, one of the most fruitful features of the Internet. But are we gaining knowledge? Or are we buying others’ thoughts?
Have you got any friend (‘friend’, both in the traditional sense and in the Internet sense) who just scrolls through the newsfeed, likes posts, shares them and tags other friends, doing all these in the least possible time without understanding what the post actually means? This especially happens when the post addresses any ongoing issue (trending issue, in social media terminology). There is a very high possibility that we all could have done this quite a few times.
Have we gained any knowledge by doing so? If yes, it is high time we knew the real meaning of the term ‘knowledge’: the information, understanding and skills that you gain through education or experience (courtesy: Oxford Dictionary). Of course, we receive some information, but what about the understanding and experience parts?
We are buying thoughts from others by paying our valuable time, attention and – most of all – ourselves in entirety. To make things worse, spreading of this pseudo-knowledge happens in a flash. We just share what we came to know, ignoring detailed information and analysis. All we need is some information to share, unaware that we are selling ourselves to an unknown person. This way, our knowledge keeps on extending to infinite extremes like a smartphone display, with our understanding shrinking like its bezels.
Even our reading is profoundly damaged. Most of the new-gen social media freaks cannot have their hold on something that exceeds, say, 140 characters. If you are one among them, it is highly likely that you are skim-reading this post. Our attention span is getting reduced day by day since there is always a lot more to know. Yes, we get more, but with less quality.
In short, we are losing our reasoning ability, and in my opinion, the Internet has played a major role in this. When we reason, we consider the facts to think in a logical way. It is the only thing that distinguishes humans from robots (I still believe robots cannot reason as good as us). Actually, we should revisit our current thinking process. But keep in mind that the time we spend on something without reasoning cannot be considered thinking. Reasoning plays a major role in both critical and logical thinking. The latter makes us relate facts or ideas. Reasoning is the process that guides us in drawing conclusions from incomplete or circumstantial evidence. Improving our reasoning skills is the immediate solution we can practise.
We cannot blame the Internet, or social media, as the only cause for concern. But it is an important factor which is originally thought to enhance our standards (which it did perfectly) but now making us too dependent on itself. Any invention has some negative effects associated with it, and the Internet is not an exception. In a world where phones are getting smarter, I fear that we are losing our smartness. If this trend continues, there will be no difference between humans and robots in the future.