Observations of an Internet Immigrant in Today’s Technological Age
By Mindy Ruiz
“They’re just boys!”
Or so I heard. As a mother of two young boys, I was quick to blame technological media (such as TV and the video games their father plays) for some of the behaviors my children were exhibiting. As they reached school age, homework became a daily dreaded event. My children were easily distracted, so I tried to separate them, hoping they would focus. No. Then I thought distractions, TV or any kind of noise, was somehow diverting their attention. With the distractions gone, I expected my boys to focus more at the task at hand. This was another misconception on my part. Only after returning to college less than a year ago, I noticed many things had changed, which included me. I wasn’t the student I remembered. I was an Internet immigrant, thrown into the futuristic “Jetson-like” world ,full of TI-84’s and Prezi’s (which I thought was short for presentation, let alone an internet program), drowning in a sea of endless new information. Some changes were for the better and some for the worse (way worse).
I must admit, thanks to the Internet, I was given the ability to find my family in Saudi Arabia. The Internet, specifically Facebook, was the tool I used to search, and eventually, find my father and his side of the family after a 27 year separation. Evolving from instant messaging, to webcams, and ultimately, to video calls or chats. The relationships within family, friends and businesses over made long distances was revolutionized. Our distant loved-ones, were not so far away anymore. Academically, research had become a snap, or so I thought, because it could be done from home. I used to dread paper research and the time it required. As an extra incentive in returning to school this meant no LONG DAYS and NIGHTS spent in the library looking for a just a handful of “possible” relevant material to use (in the good old card catalog, that was stationary), locate the materials in the library and just to read and determine if they were what you were looking for, that’s of course if it was even there).
The downside of the Internet’s constant information accessibility is the quality of the information provided. There is no sign pointing towards the fiction or non-fiction section, like in the library. That meant I now had to learn how to decipher the true facts from that of fiction. Since anyone who posts ANYTHING is considered a source and is just a “google-tale” away, doesn’t make the information provided accurate or creditable. I never thought I would see in a collegiate syllabus “Use proper English when emailing/addressing your instructor”. And since my return, there has not been a syllabus since that did not include this disclaimer. The constant reminders about assignment due dates, like when I was back in elementary (believe me, before, college was not like this.) It’s like reminding my children to brush their teeth. I literally had a math class last semester, where the professor would flicker the lights on and off to get the student’s attention. I hadn’t seen that since kindergarten, nor could I fathom in a MAT187 course. I told myself,
“Maybe it’s not just my kids, but all kids!”
In my English 102 class, last semester, I came across an intriguing 2010 article entitled “Is the Internet making us Stupid?” by the 2011 runner-up Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction author, Nicholas Karr. The article addressed the adverse effects of technological exposure on cognition. Karr cited Columbia University neuropsychologist, Dr. Eric Kandel. In 2000, Dr. Kandel won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research in the molecular biological study of learning and memory. In the study, he was able to define, on a cellular level, the neural circuit of certain behaviors, located the critical neurons (within the neural circuits) and the interconnections that store memories