It’s been said so many times, by friends and newsies, that the Internet is making us dumb.
Not it’s not.
The Internet is showing us just how dumb we have always been.
Instead of using the vast connection of computers, servers and backbones for meaningful communication, it’s been relegated to pornography, social media and other pointless distractions. (Well, at least social media connects friends and family, even if it’s just banal and solipsistic updates on the variety of beer people are chugging at the bar.)
When television first came to prominence seven decades ago, it was hoped that it would be used for betterment, to educate and inform. We all know how that turned out. When given the chance, people will take a medium and turn it into some form of amusement or self-aggrandizement.
No doubt the Internet would become about entertainment. The tragedy is that it could have become primarily a way of spreading credible, valuable information. In my opinion it’s only served to spread pointless, misleading and outright false wisdom. (Not me though, I spread great wisdom)
This is all obvious of course and I sound like an old sage who walks around grumbling about what could have been. I guess I need to get over it.
The worst thing though and something that needs to be fixed, is the dangerous misinformation that spreads as true and valid. I don’t mean bringing to a halt all of the celebrity death hoaxes. I am speaking mainly of sharing information and “tips” about medical care, psychiatric therapy and homeopathic solutions for cold sores.
The paragon of false wisdom movements is the vaccine/autism issue. Though thoroughly debunked by medical science, the notion spreads because so many people get together online and talk about how much they believe they’re connected. They want to believe it because it makes sense. Autistic kids begin to show symptoms of their condition after the 12-month vaccination. They need some sort of explanation and they want commiseration despite the fact there is no correlation.
The Internet fuels all of it. There’s always been bad information out there. It’s just that now we have a way of spreading it all over the world with one hit of the ‘Return’ button.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a former journalist and sharing ideas is what I’m all about. While bloggers can be such blowhards, some of them do have insight (whether I do or not I leave to you.)
How do we separate the good information from the bad? Maybe we could start by considering the source and realizing that sometimes, knowing the origin is more important than the wisdom it provides.