Why Making Us Stupid? What the Internet

Why is it that modern individuals often have the temptation to skim
through a text and attain less information rather than taking their time to read
and understand the concept better? According to Dwight Macdonald’s text “Reading and Thought”, he disagrees
with Henry Luce’s, the publisher of Time
magazine, beliefs that people are eager
and curios to read news about the current
situations taking place in the world today. On the contrary, the author states
that these “printed matter that inundates us daily” (566) include irrelevant
information that only helps the reader to practice his or her skills in
literature. However, this cannot be true because
of we, as modern people, fail to understand that quickly glancing through
an article does not allow the reader to generate thought-provoking ideas. In
fact, this has become a daily habit for numerous people today as they try to
avoid from learning new information and think a little. Dwight Macdonald’s
arguments are correct because such reading habits have led people to lose focus
in terms of critical thinking and their
self-interest towards social issues. Humans need to acknowledge the fact that literature
plays a significant role in our lives as it can benefit us in various
ways. 

            Due to the
advancement of the Internet and individuals spending too much time online,
numerous people are now losing the ability to concentrate their minds on reading books. The article, “Is Google
Making Us Stupid? What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr,
explained how the Web has negatively affected the way people read and think today.
For instance, Carr quoted, “Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use
of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his
mental habits” (594). In other words, his reading and thinking habits have
negatively changed, as he now chooses to quickly glance through the short passages
and completely avoid texts that are longer than three or four paragraphs. The
Web has not only affected Friedman, but also those who constantly spend their
time on social networking sites. In fact,
many people have already stopped reading literature and the outcome of this has
been disappointing. For example, the text “Why Literature Matters: Good Books
Help Make a Civil Society” by Dana Giola, shows, “In a 2000 survey of college
seniors from the top 55 colleges, the Roper Organization found that 81 percent
could not earn a grade of C on a high-school-level history test” (612). In
short, many people have now become lazy to read books due to the access to online facilities. This connects with Macdonald’s
argument that modern individuals tend to skim through texts because they want
to avoid from reading long passages and taking in too much information. Therefore,
it is important for people to understand that Google is not helping us get
smarter, but instead making us lazier and dumber.

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People need to realize that literature plays a big part in
who we are and can do today. Literacy reading has allowed us to become more
creative, self-confident, and socially engaged compared to nonreaders. For
instance, the article “From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” by
Frederick Douglass, described how with the help of books, he escaped from
slavery and fought for equal rights. It all started when Douglass went to live
with Mr. and Mrs. Auld. Mrs. Auld was extremely kind as she assisted Douglass
in learning how to read and write words of three or four letters. Soon, Mr.
Auld realized what was happening and instructed his wife to stop immediately.
Moreover, he specified, “A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master-to
do as he is told to do. If you teach that nigger how to read, there would be no
keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become
unmanageable, and of no value to his master” (96). This dark side of his master
inspired him to understand that the only way to get justice was to educate
himself. It took Douglass seven years to succeed in learning how to read and
write. He spent most of his leisure time either reading magazines, newspapers,
or books. Regardless of the fact that Mr. Auld’s “tender heart became stone”
(97), Douglass did not stop reading. He read a text known as The Columbian Orator, which helped him gain
additional information about human rights. Furthermore, one day as he walked
down on the wharf of Mr. Walters, he assisted two Irishmen to unload “a scow of
stone” (99). Once they finished, the Irishmen asked Douglass if he was a slave
for life. When Douglass said that he was, the Irishmen advised him to flee up
north and settle down there. Douglass considered this advice and was in search of a good chance to escape. In the meantime, he
decided to learn how to write. He did this by challenging any boy that he knew
could write and tell him that he could write as well. Now, when the teenager would doubt him, he would write a few words
that he had learned from the teachings of
Mrs. Auld and tell the boy to beat that. This is how he mainly learned how to
write. After becoming a better reader and writer, he devoted his Sundays in
teaching other slaves so that they could also escape from their cruel
slaveholders and flee up north. Soon, Douglass and most of his students escaped
from slavery. This relates to Macdonald’s
claim because literature allows us to become critical thinkers and make better
decisions. Thus, people should stop skimming through texts and appreciate the
benefits of literature.

To conclude, modern individuals are underestimating the
importance and benefits that reading can give us in life. People need to
understand that simply skimming through pages does not positively help anyone;
instead, it negatively affects our minds in terms of how we think and react on a daily basis. Therefore, people should
understand that reading allows us to expand our knowledge and improve our
critical thinking skills.