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Technology is making you stupid

By Everett Themer - posted Tuesday, 6 November 2012


You are dumber than your parents. That being said, it isn’t really your fault. It wasn’t caused by your lack of ambition or the years your dad spent pointing out your short comings. The fact is that your parents are most likely dumber than your grandparents. They just won’t admit it. If you are fortunate enough to have grandparents who are still living, ask them about your parents. Grandma or grandpa will almost certainly have a few interesting things to say. Yes, you probably did a whole lot of stupid things as a kid, but don’t let your parents fool you. They did too.

It all started to go bad in the 1950’s, when television got its hold on the American people, and you or your children are just the latest end result. The truth is that most likely your children will be dumber than you. The benefit for them is that fewer people will notice because soon most of us will have turned our entire lives into an Internet persona that will be capable of avoiding any and all human interaction unless absolutely necessary.

It has been said that the past hundred years have brought about more technological advances than all of history. While our distant ancestors were only able to do such things as develop extremely accurate calendars without the aid of anything other than their observational skills and basic math, we invented the VCR. They engineered and built the pyramids, we, not happy with the VCR, developed the DVD. They began studying the disciplines that would become our major sciences, we joined Facebook. Yes, you can argue that the space race and going to the moon lead to some great advancements, but we just turned that into programs designed to launch satellites to provide us with more television viewing options.

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When television became too mundane for our never ending need for brain numbing entertainment society grabbed hold of the Internet. We took a tool of educational and governmental bodies and turned it into a toy to entertain ourselves. While the Internet can be one of the most useful learning tools any one person can have, it is for the most part, just the back pages of a dirty magazine. The number one use of the Internet is pornography, but you didn’t need me to tell you that, did you? The truth though is that pornography can be so much more than the videos your golfing buddies sent you. You don’t want to hear this but Facebook is porn. Really, it is.

Do you need to know that much about your old high school friends? Do you even care that much about your high school friends or did you just “friend” them so you can have more friends than that weird guy at the office? Will you die if you don’t see the photos of what your ex was or wasn’t wearing at the club last weekend? Oh, and having said that, you probably need to check your kids’ pages. Yes, that verges on kiddie porn you are going to be looking at.  I’m not talking about just the pictures; the blogging can be just as graphic. Some of it could inspire an illiterate man to learn to read. But usually it is just more information than I need to know, care about, or would want to share with anyone else.

Somewhere along the line, we decided that the Internet just wasn’t grabbing our ever-decreasing attention spans enough so the new generation of computer programmers engineered a way to merge the Internet with television. They took two of the most important technological innovations of the twentieth century that on their own have the power to inspire and educate, and turned them into a hybrid system of incredible stupidity spreading power.

Early on it was said that the computer was going to change the world. It was going to impact how we did business, it was going to change the way we create and it was going to alter our lives. Those predictions did come true, but I’m not sure it happened in the way early computer scientists had in mind. I don’t believe they intended to bring Playboy to every twelve year old who could type and I am sure they never thought about how they were about to help facilitate a large part of todays’ marital affairs, or as they are called now, hook-ups.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, we began to multi-task or the art of doing several things at once, all poorly. This became the rage because we were so busy that there just wasn’t enough time in the day for us to get everything done that we need to. This still confuses me because from the beginning the computer was marketed as something that was going to make our lives simpler and easier. It is apparent that multi-tasking is still popular today as we update our Facebook page, post a new tweet on twitter and spend ten minutes texting each other about something that could be taken care of with a two minute phone conversation, which of course would require actual human interaction.

Today the average person spends about two hours a day working on their Facebook page. Where are they finding the time? Maybe more importantly, what are they not doing that they are able to give themselves that much free time in a day to sit in front of a computer giving their “friends” a narrative about their lives? We also can’t forget the even bigger question here, do they have a life worth anybody’s interest if they have two free hours a day to sit and tell us about it? If I had two extra hours a day I would do something productive like go back to school, or start a part-time business or know my children’s names.

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About the Author

Everett Themer is a creative director for a marketing company specialising in keeping small businesses relevant in a global economy.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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