ORIGINAL By Jackson Cooke
The Internet has brought humanity a multitude of new ways to communicate, consume information, expend leisure time and participate in many other activities that were never even conceived by the human mind. Needless to say that the Internet and it's most popular websites (Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc) have opened our minds to a host of new ways to think and organize data in our own heads - even changing the way we read. But is it also driving the nail in the coffin of another parts of our brain that has been on the decline for quite sometime - critical analysis. With the advent of newer means of communication such as radio and Television - information has been packaged into small segments where not much analysis or even raw data can be presented or absorbed by the viewers/listeners.
Couple this phenomenon with consumerism and we have a very dangerous scenario. End users merely want to be entertained and if they do come across information they want it summed up in nice little "sound bites" or "talking points." They are almost phobic of more developed pieces of information, such information that requires one to have a broader view of the subject.
This becomes even worse with the Internet. Any amount of information is at our fingertips yet we can't read a full article anymore, let alone a book. Our society is in the grips of a rabid consumerist culture. Our current economic woes demonstrate this. Aside from the numerous systemic problems we have, people not being content with living within their means has led many to become heavily in debt with no realistic way to pay any of it back. And this correlates to how people consume information on the internet. It is more about consuming the newest information than understanding what it says. Even longer articles are a pain, they just skim. The article I linked from the Atlantic looks at this. The author admits he cannot read longer articles. I understand with the way the job market is going these days there is a lot of emphasis on information technology but does that have to interfere with how we browse on our downtime?
Look at the policies that have gripped our nation because of a lack of critical analysis and reliance of sound bites (the skimmed article of television) - a huge reliance on the expert class. They are essentially saying "Don't read the books! We'll read them for you!" and of course shove crappy policy down our throats. Look at Keynesianism - when talking to someone not very informed on economics you have to give them a little bit of history in order to for them to understand why Keynesianism is a flawed, neomercantile ideology. But if the Keynesian finds the same person he can merely exclaim "Just spend money! On anything, even pyramids! It creates jobs!" The talking point is simple and makes the person feel good. After living in a consumerist society and spending much, if not more than he has, of his own money he doesn't mind seeing the government doing the same, especially if they are telling him it will create jobs. Climate change is another issue that takes a little bit of time to debunk while the Establishment point men can just bark out talking points.
Cell phones make the situation worse. They hurt human interaction and give the lust for new, yet unprocessed information a mobile platform. Your consumerist can now consume on the go and hurt his ability to sit back and think on an issue because he'll have his phone with him and has to be getting the most recent information or shallowly txting with some other mindless consumerists about the latest and greatest whatever (usually toys for adults).
Children are the next problem because they are being raised with cell phones. They are being taught to consume information before they are even being taught to process it. Granted, that happened to the prior generations with television but most parents limited their children thus they got the basics down before they were old enough to let it go. At least they have that and that can be manifested in several ways. The "truth" community shows that, there is still a strong current of individuals that want to flesh out ideas, get the full context and still remember the joy of burning through pages in a interesting book. But that will be dead soon as the children of the current and next generations are inundated with overstimulating technology at such an early age the attention span will be shot. Books will become archaic and our Masters will have the ultimate leg up on our failing society.
So what's the best course of action with this monstrous problem facing our society? Well, for one - control yourself, simply. You are in ultimate control of your life so take control! Make yourself read long articles, force yourself to read some novels and non fiction books. We must not forget those great abilities so we can pass them down to our children that will be in born to a world even more hostile to reason and critical analysis. Resisting consumerism is another important part of this - one must realize that happiness is NOT derived from buying the newest things.
Most importantly limit your children. Read to them as young children and make reading "cool" again. If you want to give your child a cell phone LIMIT THEM! I can't emphasize that more, the child must know that the world outside that tiny screen is much more important and rich than any piece of technology. We were blessed with a diverse environment that offers a lot of adventure and information if we only take a second to look away from the thousands of screens flickering at us everyday.
Author's Note: This article is discussing the mainstream phenomenon - various communities on the internet whether it be "truth" or libertarian have shown with great detail that critical analysis is not dead. But these communities are heavily in the minority and could become extinct if our incoming generations can't handle reading a 2 page article.