“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain,” Carr says in his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”. He claims that “immersing [himself] in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy… [and his] concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages… The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.” He attributes this issue to “great databases of the Internet” (Carr). Carr’s argument talks about the accessible information available on the internet. He believes that the excess amount of information makes people lose their ability to pay attention and deep read. Users instead jump from place to place and keep stumbling upon more info before finishing the last. Yet, Carr fails to address one thing: demand. Schools, for example, demand a lot from the students to the point of exhaustion. Bosses also demand a lot and if there’s a deadline, a person wouldn’t waste their time reading what’s unnecessary even if it would benefit them otherwise. He focuses simply on the idea that people have an excessive amount of information at their finger tips. Carr’s critique of Google ultimately fails because he does not address the outside variable of demand.
One of Carr’s primary concerns is skimming works. He believes that the internet attributes to that process as “[students in a study] typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would ‘bounce’ out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it” (Carr). While some people don’t necessarily read for work, many do, and the demand in the work world would affect the way people read outside of that. If, for example, a person is required to work as efficiently as possible in one setting, that will resonate in a person’s ability to read otherwise. Even Carr quoted in his article, “We are not only what we read… We are how we read.” A person will not take the time to deep read if they don’t have the time to.
Carr also explains that “Reading… is not an instinctive skill for human beings… We have to teach our minds how to translate the symbolic characters we see into the language we understand.” Reading is, then, something that is taught. It can be taught in a number of ways, which is why there are different ways of reading like symbols, for example. Keeping that in mind, the way people read can change. “‘The brain,’ according to Olds, ‘has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions'” (Qtd. in Carr). In this fast paced world, the level of demand has so greatly affected reading that people’s brains have learned to read differently, not poorly, and Google was created to help meet that demand.
Carr even admits that the internet is a “godsend” and “research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes.” While extensive research is still a necessary process for writers, they have left themselves more time to analyze the information they find and apply it. Time is saved for writers to do what they love: write. Old ways of reading have disappeared, but people have found new ways to apply themselves thanks to the efficiency another has created. Google themselves said their mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Qtd. in Carr). It has opened opportunities to people that were never previously available.
Demand perpetuated by the world is being met. There will always be an attempt to meet demand by being more efficient. If there is fault in efficiency, then the system created is faulty. Schools need to focus more on teaching deep reading skills over getting through all the required material done by the end of the year. Bosses need to allow more time for research over stressing deadlines. However, that isn’t feasible in a system built on efficiency. This isn’t to say deep reading isn’t important, it’s just not practical anymore.