The Internet has brought a revolution to the world. It instantly gives you access to the treasure of knowledge. If you’ve got a problem, there are a gazillion blogs out there waiting for you with a solution.
The question is:
Are those blogs and Wikipedia pages making you smarter or dumber?
I agree they are helpful. But do you feel smarter now?
If the Internet opens up a portal of immense knowledge, then why is that people are still struggling with many life-problems like addiction, financial crisis, etc.?
The dark side of the Internet
There are many dark sides of the Internet that you would never wish to see. So let’s stick to the context of this article.
Internet feels good
One problem today is that the Internet gives you a feeling that you know it all. People overestimate how much they know. It’s the Dunning Kruger effect.
And thinking you know it all f*cks many things up. You feel more smarter than you actually are.
Giving an analogy, our knowledge bank becomes like Netflix. You’ve got it all, but you don’t know what to watch.
Imagine you’re going on a trip to a deserted island, and you don’t know what awaits you there. You don’t even know the routes there.
So you keep your mobile with you thinking it has Google Maps – problem solved.
Then you embark on your journey without any sense of doubt, assured that you have the almightly Google to solve your problems. You think that you have the internet and it’d help you find information about that place.
But what if you lose your mobile? What if internet stops working? It’ll be a terrible situation, right?
Just because we have the Internet now and it gives us instant information, we rely on it so much.
Again, it feels good to have thousands of encyclopedias in your pocket. You feel empowered.
The Internet subjects you to Confirmation Bias
People share a lot of opinions and ideas on the Internet. With how many of those do you agree with?
We believe what we want to believe — which is also a confirmation bias.
Yes, even I prefer to see only those things that I like and believe in.
This confirmation bias takes us far away from the reality and leaves us with a limited wordlview.
There are many forums and websites that target people based on their interests and nurture them.
Are you getting smarter here? Chances are you aren’t. Because you’re feeding your mind with only those things that you think are right for you, not what you should.
The Internet makes you feel sick
Whenever I use the Internet, be it for reading articles, chatting with my friends, or watching movies, I realize that I’m sitting idle.
I guess most people are like this: When they use their devices, they are often in an idle state.
Now, remember how good it feels when you exercise? The reverse happens if you stay sedentary for an extended period.
Sometimes, I feel sick, as if something is wrong with me. Maybe it just happens to me. But one thing is sure that sitting idle for many hours is not suitable for our bodies.
Maybe that’s the reason for feeling sick while using the Internet too much.
The Internet is a hub of distractions.
It’s difficult to focus when so many notifications are popping up in your device. Even if you optimize your device and make it distraction free, it’s still hard to focus on thing and being productive.
The one thing where the Internet hits you hard is your attention span, which is your ability to pay attention to a particular thing.
From what I’ve read on blogs, our attention span is getting even shorter than a goldfish. It has reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, which is an alarming thing.
Conventionally, smart people have a good focus. And the Internet is killing our ability to focus and thus making us less smart and, therefore, unproductive over time.
The Internet kills your creativity
You might not have noticed, but the more you use the search engines on the Internet and find solutions to your queries, the more you get used to it. And gradually, you lose your ability to think for yourself.
People now are spending more time finding solution to their problems than thinking for a solution themselves.
In a way, the Internet is making people less creative and more dependent on search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
Wait— It has a good side too…
So far I was ranting about how the Internet is making you dumber day by day.
It has a good side too.
It helps you learn fast
This is the exact opposite of what I said earlier. But the thing is: if you know how to use it productively, you can become smarter.
The amount of information on the Internet is overwhelming. At the same time, there is also a lot of quality of information there, which you could use to advance in your career or make your life better.
Imagine if you had to go to an instructor every time you wished to learn a new skill. It’d be painful, wouldn’t it? The internet gives us the luxury to learn at home.
It depends on how you use it. Do you use it to watch comedy videos that give you instant happiness? Or do you use it to learn new in-demand skills that would help you get a promotion or even start your business?
There are other advantages of the Internet as well that you already know.
The Internet isn’t alive without people. It’s what it is. It gives us all so many options.
If you learn to use the Internet productively, it will make you hell lot smarter. But if you succumb to distractions on the Internet, it will make you dumber.
So learn to use it well. And track how much you use it and how you use it.
Building self-awareness is the key here.