The internet has proved to be an invaluable resource. The world’s knowledge is available at lightening speeds, transmitting from our fingertips directly to our brains. While the internet has ushered in a new digital era, everything that has a connection isn’t gold. The method that we receive all of this data can actually make us dumber.
When scrolling down to the comment section of any article, at least one person makes a comment or asks a question that is actually answered in said article. Taking into account that many of these comments are just the product of trolls; many people don’t read fully or retain the information. Not surprisingly enough, this is because our brains are specifically outfitted to process information on the internet.
In an article by Fortune, the author explains how this method of distracted learning is not conducive to remembering information for long periods of time. The overwhelming amount of information that is available and the way that it is presented may essentially be useless for comprehension.
According to a study in the Journal of Digital Information, those who read documents with hypertext didn’t retain as much information as those who read text without links. Indeed, book reading is under stimulating. That is a good thing because your brain can transfer this information from your “working memory” to “long-term memory.” Neuroscientists have discovered that long-term memory isn’t just where you store random facts, but “schemas” that help you organize thoughts and concepts. But there is only so much you can transfer into your long-term memory at once, what scientists call the “cognitive load.”
If the bulk of the information you seek is gathered from internet sources, how much have you actually learned? Think about the last few books that you have read. The likelihood of being able to recall the plot, characters and your general emotional response to the story is highly likely. Upon using the internet, a person has read hundreds, if not thousands of articles. Can you recall specific information about any article that was read longer than 6 months ago?
This cannot be deduced for all those using the internet as a resource. Interest and general willingness to learn are also factors. Research with intent provides endless insight into new ideas and concepts. It is also safe to assume that many click-bait articles or things read in passing have made its way to the data dumpster. Reign in the internet searches and focus on content that is meaningful to you, you will be smarter for it.