Thursday, December 13, 2007

Net is dumbing us down?

The MSM has picked up this new hook: Nobel laureate Doris Lessing has "used her acceptance speech to rail against the internet, saying it has "seduced a whole generation into its inanities" and created a world where people know nothing."

Reports The Age:

"We are in a fragmenting culture, where our certainties of even a few decades ago are questioned and where it is common for young men and women, who have had years of education, to know nothing of the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some speciality or other, for instance, computers," she said in the speech read out by Lessing's British publisher as she was too ill to travel to Sweden for the Nobel festivities.

She compared her visits to resource-deprived schools in Zimbabwe, where students begged her for books and taught themselves to read using labels on jam jars, to a trip to another school in North London where teachers complained that many students never read books at all and the library was only half used.

Lessing said no one had thought to ask how our lives would be changed by the internet, "which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that, once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc".

Similarly, author Andrew Keen argued in his new book, The Cult of the Amateur, that the internet was killing culture and assaulting economics.

"[Anyone] can use their networked computers to publish everything from uninformed political commentary, to unseemly home videos, to embarrassingly amateurish music, to unreadable poems, reviews, essays, and novels," Keen wrote in the book.

That's true but what's the big deal? It is up to us to choose what crap to waste time on.

She also noted that "In order to write, in order to make literature, there must be a close connection with libraries, books, the tradition." This one I agree with.


Suzan Abrams said...

Have you read Lessing, Zafar?
She debates philosophical essays very purposefully in her prose, always has done and is not to be dismissed lightly.
I believe there is a certain amount of truth...if not all, in what she says. In any case, she is of the old school.
I agree with Keen that if the uses of the internet are grossly mishandled, it brings a big loss to the human mind and to the usefulness of time.

nietzschean-ghost said...

I laughed when I seen this. People dumb themselves down. Give one hundred monkeys a hammer each and you'll always find one or two that will bang their heads with it.

I'm going to quote my main man Fred here and say:

"Some people appear to be more meager in talent than they are, just because the tasks they set themselves are always too great."

"Writers ought to be regarded as wrongdoers who deserve to be acquitted or pardoned only in the rarest cases: that would be a way to keep books from getting out of hand."

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks Suzan. Doris might be serious in her observations but that's the world's reality. I think thoughout human history, the majority of people have not been interested in books. Even the ones in Zimbabwe may not be necessarily looking for Shakespeare to read. Once you teach them how to read and write and give them the internet, most would go to chat sites and surf porn or whatever they are interested in.

NG, well, what can I say? Thanks, and very well put.