Is surfing the Internet bad for your brain?
We are information junkies
The amount of information available to us is becoming increasingly complex. Three years ago the number of websites in existence passed one billion mark. With so much information on offer, the expectation about everything we ought to know is also increasing. With 40,000 Internet searches happening every second, we have become information junkies.
The more we know, the more we realise how much we don’t know. This feeling of not knowing enough was branded ‘infochondria’ by Danish author Carsten Graff as early as 1999. Swedish marketing professor Micael Dahlén breathed new life into this expression in an opinion piece in the Swedish Göteborgs-Posten newspaper last year, when he said the best cure for infochondria is to accept that we will never know everything.
Searching the Internet is not negative in itself, as long as we don’t turn into infochondriacs, depressed that we can’t and don’t know everything.
We are googling ourselves smarter
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe we are Googling ourselves stupid. I think we are Googling ourselves smarter. From all the information we are flooded with – which is also why we feel we don’t know enough – we must constantly select what’s important and relevant. That’s good for us. As simple facts (years, capitals, etc.) are so easy to look up, young people today may not be as good at memorising facts. But by not wasting time remembering names and dates, the focus can be on studying different historic events and understanding what triggered them. We use less time on storing information, and more time on assessing and processing it.
With the Internet has come a flood of information that seems to be come over us like a storm surge. If you feel like you’re drowning, then you’re an infochondriac. If you’re simply surfing and enjoying the ride, you’ll go far.