How “Internet Brain” Affects Thinking & Behavior
Scientists and researchers are now studying how computers and the internet, including social media, are affecting our brains, memories, image processing, social lives, and more. One of the more interesting and important areas of research is how these technologies influence the brains of babies, toddlers, and teenagers who all seem to be well-connected to these technologies and possibly most vulnerable to their adverse effects.
The most recent earth-shattering example of the influence of these technologies is how the US political campaign for president was influenced by social media which included a large amount of disinformation or misinformation, consistently knocking the presidential campaign off its tracks. The possible participation of Russia in the “information wars” and the possibility that the presidential campaign may have had a different outcome without this intrusion makes questions about the internet and its influence on behavior even more important.
Cognitive Thought Processes Under Siege?
These events have brought the problem of the “lazy brain” to the fore. If people are too busy to take the time to drill down into the information they receive, how will that affect a democratic system which relies on the active participation of informed citizens?
Note that Herodotus writing in the late fifth century BC is known as both the “father of history” and the “father of lies” so perhaps this phenomenon is just more of the same in human relationships and will be present no matter what technologies people use. Every technology has its inherent strengths and weaknesses.
No Turning Back
The information revolution is an unstoppable juggernaut that will continue to spin off powerful technologies that will completely transform humans and their institutions. If the internet is making us stupid, we have to figure out ways in which it can make us better and smarter. The mind-numbing amount of data is only going to increase exponentially, and humans will have to adapt.
Following is a great discussion of how the internet is affecting people of all generations.