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Virtual insanity

india Updated: Mar 17, 2009 22:55 IST
Rajiv Arora
Rajiv Arora
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Nicholas Carr’s famous article, ‘Is Google making us stupid?’ first appeared in The Atlantic (July/August 2008). Almost eight months on, self-proclaimed experts continue to ideate on the so-called larger problem of how the internet has contributed to increasing global dumbness.

First, the idea behind the debate is as moronic as the subject itself. The argument compares the present generation with previous ones, concluding that the internet affects our concentration levels and degrades our capacity to learn and read books.

Second, it also goes on to say that the virtual world is doing what our good ol’ schoolteachers were strictly opposed to: spoon-feeding. Thus, we are society’s pudding heads, according to those who believe that Second Life is a place for those who are refused entry even into purgatory.

To the e-challenged, yes you, whose head is moving up and down right now thinking how true this is, the ‘experts’ might seem like evangelists. But for the real people who form the majority, it is farce. Remember the time when our grandfathers criticised our parents for watching excess TV for reasons not much different? The only thing that’s changed here is the medium.

Coming to the second argument, that of being offered a deliciously cooked meal on a golden platter, at least it saves the time required to visit the neighbourhood library and clear the dust off shelves, only to find the same information divided in different volumes.

Talking about us becoming bozos, has anybody ever wondered about the dexterity involved in switching windows from chat/games/ music to worksheets at the speed of light when the boss is around? It is simply not easy to look for the right website that offers quality stuff free of cost, or managing multiple downloads, remembering which one to share with whom once they are complete.

To a world that’s always depended on a walking stick (in the form of religion, fashion, books or music) for entering new eras, the internet offers a zooming car ride into the future. Perhaps it’s the speed that’s turning non-geeks into 404s. And for those who didn’t get that last sentence, and who also support Carr, stupidity just found its perfect carrier!