Google effect – impact on original thinking

3 min read

Back in the pre-internet days, if someone asked you a tricky question, you had a couple of options. You could see if anyone you knew had the answer; you could pull out an encyclopedia, or you could head down to the library to carry out research.

Before the launch of MapQuest web services, we had to toggle between the recommended directions of the localities, milestones, presence of mind and the difficult-to-fold-and-unfold maps to calculate the best driving route in our heads.   

Whichever one you opted for, it was almost certainly more complicated and time-consuming than what you’d do today. 

In today’s world nearly anything is just a click or finger swipe away with Google and similar other information platforms!!

We have seen this numerous times in both the boardroom and the classroom—ask a question that begs a thoughtful response, and watch people turn to the internet for the answer. 

Of course it’s not anyone’s fault, after all, it is important to work smarter, not harder, right??

Internet and Creativity:

If the brain is really like a muscle, one could argue that life in today’s information age could be causing ours to atrophy, ultimately robbing us of our capacity for deep and difficult critical-thinking and creativity. We all want to believe in the top results of our searches

You can hide something safely online on the second page of google, nobody goes there.

Sounds like a frightening notion from a bad science fiction flick!!

The paper titled “The Creativity Crisis” by Kyung Hee Kim in 2012, stated that, among young people the creative quotient has been on the decline. 

The ease of online search and our accessibility to almost infinite bits of information has begun to program our brains to operate in the shallow waters of thought and creativity. Icing on the cake is the rise of the exponential organization, which demands that businesses and their employees generate answers at breakneck speed, and it is no surprise that we look more to the Internet, and less to our own innate imagination, for help.

How is the internet affecting our process and creativity?

What the internet seems to be doing is chipping away our capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether we are online or not, our mind now expects to take in information the way the internet distributes it. And there is definitely an overload of information, including a lot of unnecessary information.

Rerouting the Mind: 

The Internet has changed the way the human mind works by impacting its cognitive processes. Indeed our increasing reliance on the internet is transforming the way we think and remember. We are recalling information less; maybe because we know where to find the information we have forgotten.  

So the question is whether the change is beneficial for the human brain or not?

Influencing our Thinking:  

Today, we can hardly imagine life without the internet, the results of google are nothing but the reinforcement of what everyone is looking for. There is hardly any originality left in the digital world anymore. 

Google indexing means that more people click on a result, and/or more an advertiser pays, more likely we will have the same first page search results, which may or may not be accurate. 

(After all, if everyone is doing it, it does not make it right)

In today’s world the kind of results we see for our searches is responsible for framing our mindset and we are so obsessed with our results, that our mind becomes too narrow to accept the flip side of our searches. 

Say, for example, a company posts online ads, promotes services/ products on social media, acquires likes and comments and does everything to woo the potential customer. This means the customer is made to believe that the service/ product is good enough so they can invest in it. 

And the real missing journey in today’s humanity is less to do with lack of collective societal thinking; but more the inward enlightenment where we all need to become spiritually self aware. Such journey is most likely not going to be lead by google or any other social media. Innovation will not happen if we lack in depth knowledge by 30 seconds video learnings, or 280 characters information or first page of headline search results. In depth knowledge needs much more research, and applying creative human thinking on top can lead to the true magic, humans are capable of.

Believe it or not, the effects of internet addiction are near-identical to that of cocaine and heroin. Internet addicts show signs of withdrawal when they are unable to get online. 

Getting addicted too much can cause mental disorders and can change the way people think and perceive things.

With respect to creativity and design thinking, however, we propose that it is essential to elevate our awareness of how, when, and to what end we are using the Internet, and to be mindful of its advantages and limitations on our true creative potential. 

Although it is tempting, relying too heavily on what others have done before. It can lure us into the traps of convention and incremental, rather than radical and disruptive, innovation. The world’s best answer might actually exist somewhere between our ears, just waiting to be posted on Google for others to access and use.