22 November 2010
Surfing for the Answer
The internet is a huge stepping stone in modern technology, but are the effects on the brain positive or negative? The internet is a valuable tool, but when people abuse it by becoming addicted to surfing, talking, or playing games all day, it could have a negative effect on relationships around you. For example, one day I was listening to the radio and a talk show was on. This guy’s sister was in the hospital in labor, but he missed it because he was playing World of War Craft and he wanted to reach level 80. Consequently, his family was outraged and annoyed that a computer game was more important than the birth of a new family member. Some people are so wrapped up in the virtual world, that they ignore what is going on around them.
Alternatively, some people consider the World Wide Web to be an evolutionary stage for the human mind. “A recently published study of online researching habits, conducted by scholars from University College London, suggests that we may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think. . . The brain is an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive (Carr).” Scientists see the human brain as inadequate, or to slow.
In addition, how does the internet affect relationships in a face to face context? “The Internet has become almost synonymous with popular culture. The use of on-line technologies such as e-mail, chat rooms bulletin boards, instant messaging and MUDS
(multi cultural domains) have increased at an unbelievable rate (McQuillen).” Also, a new type of technology will be out within the next decade, which is called artificial intelligence.
Like wise, “Google has declared that its mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It seeks to develop the perfect search engine, which it defines as something that understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want. In Google’s view, information is a kind of commodity, a utilitarian resource that can be mined and processed with industrial efficiency. The more pieces of information we can “access” and the faster we can extract their gist, the more productive we become as thinkers.” (Carr) Google's artificial intelligence is a device that hooks into your brain and delivers information upon request. What’s next?
For this purpose, the brain is three pounds of grey matter that allows you to think, decide, imagine, and many other functions as well. How does the internet neurologically influence the brain? Surfing the internet mostly affects the prefrontal cortex, which is basically most of your frontal lobe. Internet surfing enhances this part, but leaves the other parts of your brain undeveloped such as imagination (Sharp).
Pursuing this furthermore, scientists are worried that new technologies are becoming to addicting. People who spend hours on the computer, or online games are in danger. When surfing the net, or playing games enjoyably, a squirt of dopamine is produced from the brain, giving a pleasant feeling. The same effect is similar in drug users who just try to get their next “fix”.
On the other hand, Nicholas Carr explained that his mind wanders as he reads. Would this be considered normal? I know that it happens to me, but doctors and highly educated students do too, and they say it’s because of the internet. “When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintance types, most of them-many say they’re having similar experiences (Carr).”
“Additionally, “Brian Jackson, a counselor at A Aardvark Abuse Addiction Agency, a nationwide call center for people suffering from all sorts of addictive behaviors, said he regularly hears from people addicted to non-chemical habits such as gambling, sex, surfing the Internet, shopping and, yes, text-messaging.
"You can become addicted to anything, and if someone had a text-messaging addiction, we'd try to direct them to a support group in their area (Seate).” Is technology really helping us? New tools are always an extreme plus, but when people abuse it with addictions, it becomes rather unhealthy.
Finally, the internet is a huge stepping stone in modern day technology. It is an efficient tool that should only be used when needed. However, it is commonly abused with addictions every day. Sure, the web gives you some quick research insight, but don’t end up abusing it.
Carr, Nicholas. Is Google Making Us Stupid?. The Atlantic. July 2008. Research Library, Proquest.Web. 22 Nov. 2010.
McQuillen, Jefferey. The Influence of Technology on the initiation of interpersonal relationships. Chula Vista. (2003) Jeffrey S. McQuillen.Web. 22 Nov. 2010.
Sharp, Rob.When You Just Can’t Switch Off. The Independent. 22 Jun 2010. London (UK). Proquest. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.
Seate, Mike. Technology Ushers in New Type of Addiction. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review. (2009) Research Library, Proquest. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.