Hand-wringing about the internet is by now a time-honored tradition. It’s making our children lazy! It’s replacing legitimate human connection! It’s too distracting! There are too many naked people on it!
Perhaps the most famous work to date in the “oh no, the internet!” canon is Nicholas Carr’s 2008 feature for The Atlantic Monthly, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” In it, Carr suggests that the internet rewires our brains, diminishes our capacity for concentration, and might ultimately make us into poorer thinkers on the whole. (Carr’s story was followed by all sorts of refutations, including Carl Zimmer’s “How Google Is Making Us Smarter.”)
I was thinking about something on a related subject and wondering if Carr had addressed it, so I set out to find his story. As I started to type the title into Google — a little cannibalistic, I guess — here’s what happened:
Google search suggestions provide all sorts of fascinating anthropological insights, but I think this is my favorite one yet. What Carr said in 5,000 words, Google says in six. (And by the time I was done laughing, screen-capping and sending to a friend, I’d lost the motivation to actually read the article, so maybe Carr had a point after all.)