The Internet is Making Us (Blank)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Adam Gopnik, staff writer for The New Yorker, discusses how books like Dr. Elias Aboujaoude's Virtually You and Nicolas Carr's The Shallows have been tackling the subject of the Internet and how it changes the way we behave and think.


Adam Gopnik

Comments [6]

Robert McGuire from New Jersey

I thought Mr. Lehrer's segment this morning was very interesting. I am of the age where I remember my grandparents' generation saying that TV was going to ruin us all, while for my generation, TV is a given. But I do agree with Mr. Gopnik that the Internet evolution will be seen as the development of the printing press.

However, the rise of the Internet and the rapid sharing of information has profound implications for us all. Specifically, we need to learn to be critical thinkers, questionning what we read, hear, and see. Just saying, "I saw it on the Internet" does not make something correct or even true.

I think if we, as humankind, can evolve in this direction, the world will be a better place, ultimately.

Aug. 12 2011 01:33 PM
John A.

Update for followers of Mr Gopnik...
He had said that he didn't know if kids blogged much today.

The current 'place to be' for kids is the blogging site Tumblr. It's content is about 75% shared imagery, usually pop-culture, and 25% blogging. As with pre-adult Internet, this is a fad that will last between 1 and 5 years... We'll see.

(To Mr Henshaw's point: Is it separative? Quite a bit, yes.)

Aug. 12 2011 10:44 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Oops--I meant to put that comment in the next segment. Could the moderator delete it (& this) from this one? Thanks.

Aug. 12 2011 10:43 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Maybe the more earning power parents have, the more time they can afford to spend with their kids.

Aug. 12 2011 10:38 AM
John A.

"So, what people are learning, because of social media, seems to be exactly the antithesis of what we need for survival."

I tend to trace the origin point of this to the time when TV news editors started saying "We're just giving the people what they want"(for the ratings, for the profits). Giving what people want feeds greed and immaturity, steering them clear with what they need creates (very!) temporary upset that should be replaced as the observer learns and grows, with long-term maturity and with it survivability.

Aug. 12 2011 10:37 AM
Phil Henshaw from way uptown

One thing that keeps getting left out in discussing how the media affects how we think is the rudimentary physics for the complex systems that media creates. The social networks that form are like other cellular organisms, in creating their own internal cultural worlds, for and by themselves. So each is a kind of "knowledge bubble" of its own design and recording its own content.

The real effect of people spending more and more time in their own social networks, then, is that each social network develops a world view more separated from each other. That explains a great deal about why our larger culture is generating so many conflicting world views and languages, because they each develop on their own. It truly interferes with our cultural negotiation processes for our social cultures to not share a reliable common cultural language.

What is perhaps most important to observe in this "multiplication of languages" is that each one is more and more based on agreements. When your view of the world around you is constructed from agreements within your own group, and not interaction with the world around you, your network's world view becomes detached and unbalanced. It becomes a distortion of both the natural world and other ways of understanding the natural world.

The natural world, in a physical science sense, is the only "language" they have in common. It's the one thing all our social languages could connect with, but are naturally becoming more and more detached from due to our increasing isolation in separated cultures.

In a phrase, our world views are more and more creations of gossip. That has very significant effects on how we think, and on whether it is physically possible for us to learn how to change for the purpose of keeping up with how our natural world is changing under our feet.

Even as nature is giving very very clear signals that humans should reduce their interventions, both due to disrupting natural systems and our running out of natural resources, our sole cultural model of sustainability is still to sustain endless compound increase in our interventions and consumption of the earth, that we call "growth". So, what people are learning, because of social media, seems to be exactly the antithesis of what we need for survival.

Aug. 12 2011 09:27 AM

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