Meanwhile, the public continues to read about what they already know. And they hang out only with like-minded people. There are huge cadres of people who are practically duplicates of each other. They all think alike, dress alike, and go to the same group-approved places.
With the slow death of newspapers, this beehive-like behavior is only going to get worse. And schools are not helping; they tend to have a political agenda and seem to limit, not enhance, world perspective. This is worsened by a de-emphasis on actual learning and an over-emphasis on personal self-esteem. The self-esteem movement in education has fostered underachievers who are now out in the world of business, taking on jobs as clerks and cashiers. They can’t add. They can’t spell. They have no idea where Chicago is located on a map. They can’t read a map, in fact. They are seemingly stupid and mostly incompetent. But hey, they think they are winners just because they’ve been told they are winners. It was drummed into them.
I’ve always liked reading Dvorak’s columns, since way back in 1989 (OMG it’s almost 2 decades!) when I would stand at the bookshop and browse through those ultra-thick editions of PC Magazine. Today, PC Mag is a very thin magazine, and most of the content is placed online anyway, but Dvorak hasn’t stopped his funny rants.
I liked him even more when I got to interview him when he visited Singapore back in 2003. Very level-headed, very engaging. And I think his latest column makes a lot of sense – basically the Internet may not be making us smarter, but more narrow-minded.
I’m also guilty of narrow-mindedness – I regularly read maybe 10 tech/gaming websites, apart from Fark and Facebook. So I do try to read BBC and CNN for a wide range of news and perspectives, and ST online for some local news.
Now you do require some high level skills to be able to sift through Internet junk and get a bird’s eye view of the universe, but how many young people are equipped to do that? I really don’t know, but it is worrying.