Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Fully Wired Dark Age by Anthony McCarthy

I wrote a piece about the craving and need to be an adult a year ago. Now I'm wondering if there isn’t a concerted effort to prevent that happening.

Watching several young teenagers, my nieces, nephews and their friends and their use of online media I’m horrified at what it’s leading to. The sales pitch of lap tops in the schools, of online access was that it was supposed to provide children (and adults) with a hugely expanded source of important information. What I’m seeing is that it is the worst of TV raised to a staggering power.

My nieces’ grades have fallen drastically, their attitudes and behaviors have turned bad in ways that my older, pre-plugged in, relatives of that generation never did. I don’t care if it marks me as a geezer Luddite to say it, if giving them an Iphone and lap top with wi-fi is leading to a violent, materialistic, technological dark age, it should be stopped. The alternative is going to be horrific and very quickly.

My sister-in law and brother have disabled their home wi-fi, luckily they live far enough from other people for their daughters to access it unsupervised at home. At school they have no power over it and apparently the school will not take responsibility.

I think this is going to become an unavoidable and tremendously difficult problem within the next year or two. People who have read me know I’ve become very skeptical about the wisdom of press freedom divorced from the responsibility to democratic society. This puts me at odds with free speech absolutists, so be it. The results of the absolute freedom to entice, seduce, lie, steal, use and profit are going to prove to incompatible with democracy, they are going to prove incompatible with civil society. The truth will not be able to compete with intentionally entertaining lies and fluff. A world inhabited by entertainment addled adolescents will never grow up. That is what we are on the verge of living with, a plugged in dark age.

Nothing would give me more pleasure than to be wrong about this. What do you think?