Below is a post I wrote for discussion in my Mass Media and Behavior class about Stupidity and the Internet.
The topic of stupidity and its suspected growth has become a topic for conversation in the culture. Movies like Idiocracy and the documentary titled “Stupidity” have investigated the roots and imagined the possible future world of idiots. I think what lies at the root of the issue is a lack of critical thinking about our lives and the world around us.
In Idiocracy, Mike Judge shows us his vision of the future we’re headed for as people become mindless zombies and are beholden to the large corporations that infiltrated the government. I personally would enjoy having a Brawndo-esk energy beverage piped into my home, but not replacing water as in the movie.
I hate to go on a education bashing rant as I aspire to become a teacher, but I feel that there is a lack of using critical thinking skills as a way to examine the world. In school we are taught the scientific method as a way to test our hypothesis about a science experiment but that valuable analytical process isn’t applied to other arenas.
Everything we’ve learned and discuss in class involves looking beyond the first glance and analyzing the issues and motives of the people who bring us the news and entertainment.
I think the internet and the growth of new media can lessen the brain drain of TV with the larger variety of content the reaches targeted audiences and engages audiences better. Certainly spending countless hours watching cat videos on YouTube isn’t going to expands one’s horizons, but it is the interaction through the internet that engages people. A recent study from the University of Stiriling showed that avid facebook users had an increase in working memory capacity versus control and social networking and youtube study participants.
It was in colleges where the internet was born and raised and academia as a whole has a vested interest in seeing knowledge spread and the internet not become a vast wasteland. Most teachers dislike Wikipedia, but I see that as a missed opportunity for academia to open the gates spread the knowledge for the betterment of society. Projects like MIT’s open course ware are all about sharing the mountain of accumulated knowledge. Sir Isaac Newton was famously quoted as saying “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” He was referencing the great minds that had come before him and their learning making his discoveries possible, and I think that the internet can be a tool to help others jump up on our backs and see farther.