Is Social Media Crowdsourcing Making Us Lazy?

Social media makes us lazy

You’ve become lazy. You’re no longer smart. You’re a shadow of the clever person you really could be. Don’t feel bad – I am too. We all are. We used to be questioning; now we just ask questions.

Blame social media. Actually, don’t – blame social media and crowdsourcing. Penned by Jeff Howe in a 2006 Wired Magazine article, crowdsourcing does exactly what it says on the tin – allows us to source a crowd for an answer.

Want to know where the best steakhouse in Waco is? Ask Twitter. Need to find a kid-friendly bar for your next day out? Update your Facebook status. Want to find out if G.I. Joe blows? Start a conversation on Quora.

Useful? Yes. Informative? Yes. Necessary? Not always. Encourages laziness? Most definitely.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned research? Taking the time to satisfy our curiosity by looking up information ourselves? Have we really got to the stage where we’re so dependent on others that we’re collectively wasting our intelligence?

At school, we’re given textbooks to help us learn what we need to know. We can also access libraries, Google (man how I wish I had that available when I was at school!) and numerous other resources. A world of knowledge is at our fingertips.

Yet increasingly we’re asking for others to use their fingertips instead. Who does this benefit?

Do we really learn more by asking someone else to find out something for us? Does our memory retain facts and information if it’s fed to us, or if we hold the spoon ourselves?

There’s no denying that crowdsourcing can offer a valuable and beneficial option for gathering information or opinions on any given topic. Yet just because something is there doesn’t mean it needs to always be used.

Instead of crowdsourcing your next question, try this:

  • Google it. There’s a reason why Google is the number one search engine – people use it to search for things. Try it – it’s fun.
  • Use an online encyclopedia. The website Encyclopedia.com gathers information from 49 encyclopedias and 73 dictionaries and thesauruses. There’s not a lot that won’t be there.
  • Try a relevant resource. If it’s a sports question, try a sports trivia site. If it’s an entertainment question, try an entertainment site. And so on…

Don’t get me wrong – I crowdsource just like anyone else does. But it’s usually for opinion as opposed to information, or for information that I’ve searched for and just can’t find anywhere (yes, even Google isn’t all-powerful).

Human beings are pretty clever by nature. Can we work on keeping it that way?

image: wstera2

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