Social Question

hookecho's avatar

Does anyone else think that the internet is making people stupid?

Asked by hookecho (958points) August 28th, 2009

It seems like we always here about the television being labeled the idiot box. It’s the latest trend for smug douches to throw out their tv and righteously proclaim “I don’t watch tv, I only use the internet!”

Well, as most people should know, the internet is full of misinformation and outright lies. Whats worse is because it’s global, anyone with any stupid crackpot theory can find someone else in the world who agrees with them, giving them validation. This is why we have so many dumbasses running around believing the world will end in 2012 and chemtrails and all that B.S.

Also, have you taken a look at youtube recently? The top subscribed channel is some afterbirth talking in a high pitched voice about god knows what ridiculous crap, I couldn’t watch more than 10 seconds of it. How the hell is that any better than television.

Basically, I think that the internet is destroying social interaction, making people stupid, and is far more harmfull to society than television. Thoughts?

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35 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

Duhhh, what?

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think stupid people having more kids than intelligent people is making us stupid, as illustrated in this fine film.

AstroChuck's avatar

Yeah. It does seem that way sometimes, doesn’t it? I think as there are no filters everyone chimes in regardless if they are qualified mentally or not.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Talking afterbirth?

There are no words.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Just like TV, the internet is what you make of it – if you have no critical thinking skills, then you’re in trouble…but you’re in trouble or the land of blissfull ignorance either way

dpworkin's avatar

There have always been plenty of stupid people, and certain things about the Net are shiny to them nowadays.

elchoopanebre's avatar

I’m a bit on the fence about this. On the one hand, the internet makes a virtually infinite bank of information readily available to more and more people and connects humans together across the globe quite easily.

On the other hand, it seems to require less effort to find the information and increases people’s impatience for it. This generation (which I am a part of so don’t think of me as an old person shaking a cane) has such a short attention span and I think some of it has to do with the internet. Also, information that is so readily available requires less knowing of the individual.

I’ve seen many people, when asked things they don’t know, just refer to wikipedia and promptly forget what they looked up.

So yes and no. Ahh, this answer is a jumbloed mess…

rebbel's avatar

I see you tagged this as conspiracy.
Who is conspiring then?

But no, i don’t think it does that.
I, for one, learned yesterday that when you squeeze your toiletpaperroll, the paper won’t roll all the way down when your pussycat grabs it.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

it’s how people use it that makes them stupid.

yeah if you do nothing but look up videos like A guy yelling at his Cats, obviously you’re IQ isn’t going up at all… but there are thousands/millions of intellectually stimulating sites out there.

StellarAirman's avatar

Stupid people existed before the internet, and before the TV, and before texting and before movies, etc.

The internet may expose you to more stupid people than you would normally choose to interact with in real life, which is why it may seem that there are more stupid people.

The internet has done nothing but further educate me in almost every aspect of my life. Sure I use it to watch funny videos and other things to relax at times too but that doesn’t have to make me stupid. On the other hand I learned an entire trade (web design) completely online, I am over half way completed on finishing a four year degree completely online, I’ve met people from all over the country and even other parts of the world that I consider friends, I keep in touch with long-time friends like I never would have been able to before the internet existed, etc.

Just like someone else said, it’s what you make of it. If you’re already a “stupid” person, then it may amplify those traits, but if you’re not then logging in isn’t going to magically lower your IQ.

For the younger generation coming up right now I think it could more easily hinder them, depending on how it is used. For instance the “IM & texting speak” is actually showing on up on job resumes and school reports. I don’t really blame the internet for that though, as I shorten things I say in texts as well but when I need to type something more than “hey, meet me here at 1pm” I can express myself in a proper way. It’s more a sign of poor education and teachers and parents letting them get away with it in my opinion.

wundayatta's avatar

Before I started using the internet, my !Q was 165. Now it’s down to 105 and falling about a point per month. Flowers for Algernon, anyone?

Peinrikudo's avatar

Me no think so! Internet good! TV bad!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

It can make you stupid if you let it. As with anything, it’s how you use it. Personally, I’ve learned a lot over the internet. Yes, there’s things that are posted wrong, but I think the correct information outweighs it. Being able to just type something in & look it up is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge.

MrItty's avatar

@hookecho You realize you used the Internet to post this, right? You realize that your statement “anyone with any stupid crackpot theory can find someone else in the world who agrees with them, giving them validation” is therefore self-affirming, right?

Regardless, no. The Internet does not “make” people stupid. Rather the Internet gives many more stupid people a forum to make their stupidity known than any other media before it ever allowed. Hence, the comparative minority of stupid folks we’d not often heard from now has a much louder voice.

SheWasAll_'s avatar

Thank you for using the internet to get this question out there.

timothykinney's avatar

Yep, but it’s not the internet itself that makes people stupid. It’s the opportunity cost that draws people away from things like:

1) Books

2) Real conversations

3) Solving math problems on their own

There’s also, in my opinion, a very strong effect related to the “instant gratification” of surfing the web. This conditions the mind to expect instant gratification in other arenas, where it is not possible (such as success at school, at work, or in a marriage). This leads to frustration when things seem so much harder than on the internet.

The remedy?

Use the internet for useful things, but don’t spend all day on Fluther or Twitter. Get outside. Make some friends that you don’t know online and hang out with them sometimes. Make an effort to figure things out on your own without relying on the internet. After all, there’s a good chance that when you really need to know something you won’t have access to the internet. You should be able to figure it out ab initio.


photographcrash's avatar

I don’t know if it is, but it sure is destroying proper grammar and spelling.

drdoombot's avatar

Easy access to a variety of information seems to be beneficial to intelligence. The problem, in my opinion, is in the nature of how information is conveyed on the internet. Due to news items, blog posts, tweets and similar things, we are now being bombarded with a larger number of smaller snippets of information, one after the other. I sometimes find myself bookmarking or setting aside certain posts because they are “too long,” expecting to get back to it when I don’t feel like consuming smaller tidbits.

Because I spend so much of my day absorbing many smaller pieces of information, I think I retain less because I’m not dwelling too long on any one subject. With traditional media, like books and newspapers, you are forced to spend more time on a single subject; you concentrate on it and don’t distract yourself often. Imagine approaching traditional media in the way you do the internet: you’d have to sit on the floor, surround yourself with 5–10 newspapers and the same number of books, plus have a couple of TV’s blaring nearby. Now take any one of the items around you, start reading but don’t read for longer than a couple of minutes before switching to another item, then repeat. Do this 20 or 30 times while periodically looking at one of the TV’s and focusing for a few minutes. This is similar to way we browse the internet. Sure, you are probably picking up a few useful pieces of information here and there, but not with the same understanding and command of information as you could be.

The amount of time I’ve spent on the internet the past few years is something I beat myself up over. Especially when I look at my 250+ TBR list and realize I could have been halfway through it if my time spent in books instead of at a computer screen. To be fair though, more than 200 of the books on that list were added because of learning about them on the internet.

There’s also the issue of memorization. Why bother remembering things when you can look them up so easily? Vocabulary, historical dates, etc., are all tools that improve our analysis and understanding of the information we encounter. I think it’s yet to be seen how our cognition and intelligence will change when we don’t keep this information inside our heads anymore. The kind of intelligence displayed on shows like Jeopardy certainly seems to be on the way out.

syz's avatar

@AlenaD Only the first five minutes of that film are worth watching and sadly, those first five minutes are completely believable.

loser's avatar

Some people maybe. But I think it’s making me smarter. Whenever I wonder about something I’ll look search and read up on it. Very cool!

dalepetrie's avatar

You need to read this book. It discusses how essentially our culture is on the decline because tyranny has taken over, not how we expected it to via the suppression of information, but by overwhelming us with it so we can no longer discern reality from illusion. This allows the corporations to essentially take over our government, having their interests served, while making us all believe it’s still “we the PEOPLE”. I think the problem is your average person wants to be entertained, and in entertaining us, the powers that be have institutionalized our systems so that we are now taught facts and figures and not how to think critically. So, your average person now has zero capacity for critical thought, and as such is using TV and the internet, which in the RIGHT hands are powerful tools, to be distracted from what is really happening. So on one hand, the internet has the capacity to make us the smartest civilization in history, but ends up creating a divide…making some of us more knowledgeable and informed than any people in the history of man, and the majority of the rest of us so distracted that we wantonly walk towards our own self-destruction (bringing those of us who are smart enough not to buy the lies down with them). Seriously 10 out of 10 stars for this book, it will change your life.

kevbo's avatar

@dalepetrie, that looks like a worthwhile read, although, I’d argue that “human society” has been that way for millenia, just in different forms. I think that in the past people were just more apt to believe whatever propaganda since the media and religion had such strong control over the public sphere (and the means to paint the history books as they saw fit). So perhaps people were just as dumb, but it was less noticeable because most notions of reality were more or less agreed upon.

dalepetrie's avatar

@kevbo – it argues that, but it draws parallels between our culture and cultures of bygone eras and how in EVERY case where people were distracted by illusion and ignored reality (an easy bit of human nature to draw out after all), we saw the same thing…those with money and power grabbed for more money and power, the government began to represent the elite and not the masses and it all collapsed (like it could if China stops buying our T-Bills for example), suddenly there was no more such thing as the middle class, you were either a have not who was polarized against the haves, or you were in the minority of the haves. At this point the have nots rebelled, they looked for anyone to lead them out of their bleak circumstances, and they ended up following despots who know how to capitalize on their anger, but who offer no real solutions. You would LOVE this book, I’d suggest anyone concerned about the future of America should read this book, it made me literally sick to my stomach, but I’m glad I read it.

Tink's avatar

Haha no! It made me in a way “smarter” actually. Ask anyone.

filmfann's avatar


YARNLADY's avatar

I haven’t ever seen those youtube things you are referring to, and I still know the word that means listening to is spelled “hear” not “here”, so I guess it’s not working on me.

I don’t have an account on Facebook or any of the other social sharing sites, and the only videos I have seen are linked from here, or on the video site.

WiseOldUnicorn's avatar

The Internet doesn’t make people stupid, it just gives them more ways in which to showcase their stupidity. And not only that, but the perceived anonymity of being online makes them even more willing to do so.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

A friend of mine just commented on how amusing it is that you’re using the internet to bitch about the internet.

On a more serious note, I do think it’s making people alot more ADD and impatient. It’s also becoming too integrated with daily life. As George Costanza put it best..

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The Atlantic ran a really good article last summer entitled Is Google Making Us Stoopid?. I’ve noticed a big difference in the ability to find information between generations, and think that in general information discernment among younger generations is weaker than older generations, in part because constant internet access precludes the need for sustainable research skills. Sorry. My brain’s still at the office…

DominicX's avatar

As a proud fan of both of the internet and TV, I’m not biased towards either one. They’re different, but they have some similarities. The internet doesn’t make anyone stupid. It just is an easy way for anyone to communicate to other people and therefore, some people are going to be more stupid on the internet. There are plenty of intelligent things on the internet and plenty of ways to take advantage of those. I personally use the TV and the internet for different things. I use the internet to talk to friends, do research (not necessarily for school, sometimes just random research in topics that interest me), for reference (dictionary, maps, etc.), entertainment (music, YouTube, etc.) and to discuss topics with other people. The internet allows you to do more than the TV. The TV is for entertainment mostly and can also be used for information in terms of documentaries and other informational programs. It depends how you use them. I don’t think either one makes anyone stupid. Some people are already stupid and just come to realize it through the TV and the internet. :P

I know what you mean about Fred, though. I hate Fred. Most overrated piece of crap ever.

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

Let me put it this way. There are a ton of stupid people that happen to have computers and they like other stupid people and stuff. Fred. Then there are the smart people that hate having to see all the stupid stuff. Fred. They stick to all the awesome stuff on the internet that isn’t stupid. They design websites, write interesting blogs, showcase their art on Flickr! and tons of other great stuff.

The worst part in Youtube history was when Fred overtook Smosh.

mattbrowne's avatar

Stupid use of the Internet (and other media) keeps people stupid.

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