#Dumberanddumber: How social media dulls the mind

April 2, 2014 — by Michelle Leung

When was the last time you checked your phone? Was it two minutes ago? Or five? Or maybe even an hour? 

When was the last time you checked your phone? Was it two minutes ago? Or five? Or maybe even an hour? 
Most students would agree that social media is addictively distracting. Procrastination has never thrived more than in the current modern age.
Former New York Times reporter Bill Keller claims that social media isn’t just a distraction; people are selling their souls to the Internet. 
In restaurants, people play Candy Crush while waiting for food. In a lunch line off campus, students use their phones instead of talking. 
In extreme cases, there have been incidents of people taking pictures of an accident to post online instead of helping. For example, the National Post reported that in 2012, bystanders at a car accident in Ontario took pictures instead of calling for help.
Posting and tweeting on social media has become a competition over who has done the most interesting things, said the most clever statements and taken the best photographs. But technology has also dulled human innovation in terms of problem solving, decision making and interacting with others. 
Just as GPS's have lessened our sense of direction, pocket calculators have rendered us less capable of basic math and typing has hurt our handwriting, social media has killed our ability to communicate genuinely with friends or even to express real emotions. 
Students today feel their duty as a friend is fulfilled when they type a couple "LOLs" or chat a few words. Although communicating online might be faster, it also adds an extra filter to friendships. Messaging doesn't convey a real personality; a typed word cannot carry the emotions or nuances that words can in person. 
There may be some benefits to social media: Keller wrote, “Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud. The upside is that this frees a lot of gray matter for important pursuits like FarmVille and ‘Real Housewives.’”
According to New York Times reporter Nick Bilton, the web has actually made users dumber. 
While in the past, monks could recite entire books, Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the printed page meant memorizing was unnecessary. And now, the Internet has made even reading and analyzing information unnecessary. Why think if the Internet is just a click away, ready to tell you what to think?
“I spent a lot of time trying to make sure people could put anything on the web, that it was universal,” World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee said in an interview with the New York Times. “Obviously, I had no idea that people would put literally everything on it.”
So while it’s true that technology has improved information flow, it has also created many problems.
We couldn't live without social media — we seriously doubt you could either. 
But how hard can it be to put down the iPad and talk during dinner? It’s about the small steps: If everyone tried to spend half their time just talking the old fashioned way to others, the human race would at least save some of its social skills.
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