The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future
The age of technology and information has brought lots of changes in the way people communicate with each other and carry out their routines lives. It was always believed that technology would make people smarter and efficient in their education and work but the real outcome seems to contradict with this notion. As the younger generation is spending more time on the net, socializing and living in a virtual world, the intellectual levels of the youth are being affected. The book “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)” by Mark Bauerlein brings forth the changes that digital age have brought about in the lives of young people. In this paper, we will analyze why `reading` and `literature` in the post-print media make us less intellectually capable than reading print-based texts.
The intellectual levels of the young Americans and their knowledge about the world affairs points towards the deteriorating effects the digital age is having on the younger generation. The young Americans seem to be unaware of what is going on in the world, except their surroundings and social circle. “It isn’t enough to say that these young people are uninterested in world realities…….Or a better way to put it is to say that they are encased in more immediate realities that shut out conditions beyond-friends, work, clothes, cars, pop, music, sitcoms, Facebook.” (Bauerlein13). The reason behind this attitude of the youngsters is their increasing interest in their virtual world where they are spending majority of their free time. As they are occupied with activities like chatting, playing video games or surfing on the net, the young people are neglecting the sources of valuable knowledge such as print-based texts. The absence of intellectual activities in their leisure is influencing the outlook and the behavior of the young Americans. “An anti-intellectual outlook prevails in their leisure lives, squashing the lessons of school, and instead of producing a knowledgeable and querulous young mind, the youth culture of American society yields an adolescent consumer enmeshed in juvenile matters and secluded from adult realities.” (Bauerlein16). The young Americans are concerned about their lives within the boundaries of their social circles and localities. They are ignorant about the events occurring beyond these boundaries. The lack of knowledge about their world and the necessary skills required to survive in this world is resulting in less intellectual young persons in the society.
The reading habits of the young people have also changed, owing to their interest and attraction towards the virtual world. Numerous researches have pointed that people who are habituated of reading web pages, are developing a reading pattern which is far different from the reading pattern that is taught in the schools. This reading pattern, which is influenced by the habit of going through web pages, is not conducive to the development of intellectual levels. Instead of reading every sentence, the web page reader scans through the pages and searches for keywords which interest him/her. The readers read that part of the page which seems to catch their attention. And one more disturbing feature of this reading habit is the lack of concentration for longer periods. The reader keeps on surfing from one web page to another until he/she finds something interesting to read. The reader is employing the method of superficial reading. The reader fails to gain an in depth knowledge of the subject he/she is reading. Although the reader thinks that he/she is gone through the reading material, there are numerous things in the reading material that the reader fails to notice. To understand and comprehend the meaning of a text, it is necessary that the reader reads every word and sentence of the text but a reader who is reading a web page ignores this rule and reads the text between the lines. The erroneous reading pattern and the lack of holding concentration for longer periods are developed, owing to the post-print media, and this is making us less intellectually capable than reading print-based texts.
The advances in the field of technology and communication have changed the way the young people utilize their leisure time. The younger generation is so occupied with the virtual world that they have lost their touch with the real world. The activities, on which the young people are spending their majority of time, are in no way contributing to the development of the intellectual levels among the youth. The reading patterns of the young people are being influenced by the post-print media, as people are utilizing the method of superficial reading while going through any reading material. The post-print media and its impact on the lives of the
young people, is leading to lower intellectual levels among them.
Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans
and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30). Tarcher: 1st Edition.