oh come ON

For today’s fluff: a rant.

File this under “here we go again”: An article in Atlantic Monthly says the Web is dumbing us down. I have to wonder about the age of the writer … because the EXACT same thing was said about my generation, which was weaned on TV. Sesame Street debuted when I was 5 years old. I remember watching Wild Kingdom followed by The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night. My pop culture references are filled with 70s sitcoms and what my mother referred to as the dumbest program of all time: Gilligan’s Island. Then it was a love affair with the new “personal computers,” Atari, and the lineup of video games in the entryway of the local shopping spot. All, it was claimed, was changing the way kids thought and how we reacted to the world. And attention span. Oh, yes, that in spades. And now, yes, I love my Web, I’m on it every day, I write a blog, I Twitter and IM, I do the Facebook thing. I also pulled a 4.0 in my Master’s degree, and I read like a text demon. I’ve finished a few substantial novels this year already (along with some cheeseburger books, I’ll admit that). I read newspapers. Some online, yes, but also real, inky paper newspapers. This summer I’ve promised my husband I’d read War and Peace and he’s promised me he’ll read Vanity Fair. My children love TV and the ‘puter, too, but both are emerging readers (the oldest, who is 9, took off on Roald Dahl this year), and they don’t seem to have attention problems. Neither the Web nor even TV has been around long enough to really thoroughly research what they “do to us.” (Hello? My mother was raised in the ’30s and ’40s on a Philco radio! She got the same doomsday message about the crap she was putting in her ears.) If the author of this article is having difficulty reading or otherwise functioning because of the Web, methinks there are other problems there.

Listen, people aren’t stupid, nor are they scatter-brained enough to be completely rewired by TV, the Web or whatever is next in pop culture; they’re lazy when they can be (include me in that) and they rise to whatever expectations we put out there for them. Let’s not blame our technology or allow ourselves to be convinced by phantom evidence that it’s changing us in scary ways; let’s raise the bar – for others and for ourselves.

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