Is Social Media making us stupid(er)?

Great. Great. GREAT piece on NPR last week on Nicholas Carr, the author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.” Long story short, that while the internet is great at giving us a lot of bite-sized pieces of information in short amounts of time, there’s also a downside. Carr argues, “even if people get better at hopping from page to page, they will still be losing their abilities to employ a ‘slower, more contemplative mode of thought.’ He says research shows that as people get better at multitasking, they ‘become less creative in their thinking.’”

Interesting, no?

I have the same feeling about that niche of the internet called, you guessed it, social media. Bite-sized glimpses of lives. Images. Links. 140-character blips. We try to take it all in while jumping from site to site. And it becomes the echo-chamber. We get caught up in the whirlwind and we don’t deeply about anything else except social media. When I think back over the past couple of years, I can easily remember that the biggest lessons I learned or things that influenced my thinking and executions came from things OUTSIDE of social media articles. A screenwriter talking about the elements of story. A lone dancer at a music festival doing his own thing like nobody’s watching.

Even trying hard to cull down my Twitter stream, it’s still littered with link after link to social media articles that all are trying desperately to prove the worth of the medium. Oh, it has many redeeming qualities. But when we all start talking (and listening) to only one another – and especially when we don’t question each other – we’re homogenizing the thinking. And nothing new comes out of that.

So I challenge to go draw inspiration from somewhere else. Get lost deep in thought. Learn from other disciplines that have nothing to do with marketing or PR or digital or social media. (And don’t give me that BS that “everything is social.”) Go on now.

10 Comments

  • June 11, 2010

    John M. Hoyt

    I have followed several articles about multimedia, multi-tasking and social media (social-multi-tasking? hrmm)… All of them concur and I agree that your life can become cluttered from too much of anything, whether it is blogs, or twitter, or facebook, web forums, chat channels, news sites, youtube, etc, etc, etc.

    Regarding it hampering your creativity, without question, the more input you have from others, the less creative you are, everything you do is in some way or fashion replicating what others do instead of finding interesting ways to do the same thing yourself. However, for many people, that is not a bad thing, they don’t need to be creative.

    Interesting topic…

  • June 14, 2010

    Chris Thilk

    Well I think you nail the problem when you say that so many of the links are to stories that are working so hard to prove the worth of the medium. There’s an entire cottage industry built around the inherent insecurity of many people who are catered to with posts about proving to your boss that Twitter (or whatever) is worth the time.

    Basically so much time is wasted reading crap – sorry, there’s no other word for it – about 10 ways to do this that or the other thing that there’s little time for the deep thought that’s otherwise needed.

    I spent a good amount of time at a recent conference annoying whoever was sitting next to me with my repeated utterances about how there really wasn’t anything new with social media. Want a successful program? The bones of it are going to be remarkably similar to what would have gone in to a successful program 20, 30, 50 years ago.

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    RT @jayamyler ? [link to post] http://bit.ly/9JiNN5

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  • June 14, 2010

    jayamyler (Jaya Myler)

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    Is Social Media making us stupid(er)? [link to post]

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    Hypocritical to post this? Who cares. It’s a great point. Social Media can make us less creative – [link to post]

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    @jayamyler no. Television & other one-way mediums made us stupid by presenting views from a few big companies. Internet may reverse this.

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  • June 16, 2010

    Karia Mulholland

    Regarding it hampering your creativity, without question, the more input you have from others, the less creative you are, everything you do is in some way or fashion replicating what others do instead of finding interesting ways to do the same thing yourself. However, for many people, that is not a bad thing, they don’t need to be creative.
    +1

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    Laughing at: “Is Social Media making us stupid(er)? « Ask Spike” ( [link to post] )

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