Rhetorical Analysis of Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
The Internet takes away a person’s desire to learn. Very few people think and feel that technology is wrong. In Nicholas Carr’s essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid”, he mentions the dangers that will come forth in future generations based on the risks of the open webbed internet. Carr gets through the dangers of Google by abusing the use of ethos, pathos and logos. Carr opens his essay with an act from 2001: A Space Odyssey and ends his first paragraph with a computer saying, “I can feel it.” He then begins the next paragraph with, “I can feel it, too.” Carr’s point of repetition was to have his readers obtain a connection with computers. In today’s society there is not much of a gap between people and computers.
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In the essay, Carr first addresses how the Internet is changing people’s ability to comprehend. While technology is helpful to most people because of its fast responses to boundless information, it is still changing the way a person thinks correctly, effecting a person’s ability to learn things. Carr claims that the Internet is making people lazy with a shorter attention span and therefore they become slower at reading and writing, producing a shallow approach to thinking. Carr seems to conclude that computers are more advanced in brain power than humans, and dependence on computers is taking away the power of the human brain to think properly.
Within the essay, Carr discusses that computers have positive outcomes for users in today’s society. However, when he mentions, “But that boon comes at a price,” his tone immediately changes from grateful to troubled. This change in tone shows that Carr is beginning to create a deeper connection between computers and society. One of Carr’s counterarguments in the essay is when he mentions that it is a good thing that people can text because the receiver needs to read the information sent, forcing users to read and write. Carr also mentions that reading a text is not the right kind of reading, so it is not so good. Carr’s audience is believed to be anyone using technology. Carr’s focus are those audience members who are too involved in their screens, but anybody who uses the Internet can be. Carr also makes his essay enjoyable for kids and teens by including the text of A Space Odyssey.
In order to grasp the reader’s attention, Carr enhances his writing by using ethos in order to associate with the reader. Carr states that the Internet is causing people in society to become more impatient because the Internet is a loop to get information fast instead of researching in various books. He tells the reader that what he writes is about himself as well. Therefore, he is a firsthand witness of the fact that all of these things are true because they happened to himself. Carr adds in his essay that “the Net is becoming a universal medium” for him, showing the reader that he is just like them, taking advantage of the Internet. Carr adds his own information to gain a trust with his reader by using ethos.
Carr lifts his argument even more because he gives not only examples of himself but of different bloggers as well. For example, he writes about Scott Karp, who has been excessive about reading, but now that the Internet is readily available, he finds it more and more difficult to immerse himself in a book. Carr shows that he is not the only one experiencing this change in society, thus gaining the trust of his readers.
Carr supplies logos in his essay too, by referencing different studies and experiments. For example, he mentions a study performed by University College London scholars about online research habits. By mentioning this experiment, he showed his argument to be even more true because the results the scientists received proved to people that because of Google, today’s society skims over proper sources more than ever before. Carr adds to his logos by including historical events as well. For instance, he writes a comparison between a clock and the Internet although they do not have much in common. The clock causes us to stop what we are doing and be in the moment of listening to the time on the clock. When the clock was invented, it changed the way people thought, and a person’s attention became focused more on time as a measure of tasking than the task itself. The clock years ago was the new technological creation and one sees how that changed minds. Therefore, in present time it supports the fact that the Internet changes minds as well. But Carr should not be focusing on the old technology but on what the new technology brings, because people are in a different society now and the current societal needs demand a certain amount of technological savvy.
Carr uses pathos in a way that elicits a sense of fear in his readers. He writes about how Google is ruining the natural intellect of people’s minds. Carr lingers to say that “the human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive” (800). By examining the human brain and comparing it to a computer, the author suggests that the Internet is slowly taking control over us and making us into robots. When Carr mentions that brains are outdated, he alludes to the fact that computers are on a higher level than the brain itself.
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Carr includes Richard Forman’s opinion, that we will all become pancake people. But this statement is not necessarily true. Although technology specifically focuses on the internet giving a person unbounded access to information, a person doesn’t use the internet for the purpose of accessing all that it has to offer but uses it as a resource to find information needed or looks it up out of interest. The internet is believed to help people gain knowledge at a much faster pace and create less stupidity on specific topics. Technology is also super helpful in communication. People in this society are more advanced in different cultures and languages because they can communicate with people all the way across the world. From Carr’s personal experience he thinks people drown in the amount of information that the internet has to offer but the claim is unrelatable because perhaps it focuses on older people but society that was born in this generation has no problem and is definitely not overwhelmed.
Although relying too much on the Internet will change the way society thinks and reads, it can also have some advantages that Carr should have mentioned. When this generation uses the Internet, it fastens the pace of wanting information. When people are in this mindset it can have a new process of learning things. It can expand the knowledge and turn the mindset into a growth. To help surpass this message, Carr goes into great length of explaining through pathos ethos and logos. Carr uses ethos in a way to purely connect to the reader and focus on the fact that he is merely a human being just like them. The way he uses logos in his writing is through referencing experiments and historical innovations. Carr establishes pathos by using the emotion of fear to get the reader’s attention to stop using the Internet as often.
Carr, tries persuading his readers with his argument too hard. While readers can agree that the Internet distracts a person from reading and concentrating, Carr goes too far to say that its racking our brains, messing them up and turning us into computed robots. Therefore, Carr’s article is more opinion based than just an argument, he did not talk equally about how the Internet could be a good thing.
- Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Norton Field Guide to Writing. Richard Bullock, Maureen D. Goggin, Francine Weinberg, 2019, 789-802.