Americans are getting dumber, and the internet is a serious culprit in this decline. Search engines, social media, and wide access have made research and learning obsolete.
Americans are getting dumber. It’s evident every day, and the biggest problem, contrary to popular belief, is not the decline of the education system. It’s not the collapse of social classes. These have been going on for as long as the United States has been a country. The greatest culprit in the recent American ignorance is the internet; a tool that should have made the free flow of information and education thrive. Websites such as Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube have made the practice of research, study, and actually learning obsolete. The internet is actually negating our need to learn. The internet is a global system of interconnected computers and computer networks that use a common and standardized protocol to link several billion devices. We use it to gather and store everything we know about everything. Even our basic infrastructure has become hardwired to the system. We don’t need to write checks and mail in our bills, anymore, because we can pay online. Instead of phone calls, we send emails. Instead of encyclopedias, we have Google. In 1972, the average American SAT scores in reading comprehension was 530. By 1992, that had slipped to 527, dropping 3 points. However, over the next 20 years, during the same time that the internet had started its rise to glory, that score plummeted to 496; ten times the drop from the previous 20 years. Many people will claim that sites such as Google and Youtube are useful research tools. With the use of search strings and word relation, users can find thousands of connected articles and videos for the information they need, and when used properly, it would be an exceptional resource. However, if abused, the over abundant saturation of data available encourages people to use the first thing they find without taking the time to properly absorb the information and learn from it. Users can see exactly what they need, do what they needed it for, and then move on, forgetting everything that they read and saw until the next time they need to look it up. Additionally, the users miss out on an invaluable and irreplaceable opportunity to discover other facts that could have been noticed along the way. Those incidental and secondary bits can often lead to a better understanding of the subject you were supposed to be researching. Research is a systematic process, utilizing sources and materials in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions, but if all you have to do is type a couple words into a search bar to get what you need, you fail to reach your own conclusion. You are limited to conclusions that were already made by other people. With the increase in internet usage, also came the creation of social media. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, internet chat protocols like IRC, and even sites for specialized common interests, are a double impact. You don’t need to research if you can just ask the question and wait for a few hundred other people to answer it for you, but now you don’t even have to leave the house to get other people’s opinions. Humans are social creatures, learning and developing from their interactions with other humans. The problem has