Am I Dumb? Nah. Am I Shallow? Ehhh…. Maybe. Two books that I plan on reading this summer sure do think so. “The Dumbest Generation” and “The Shallows” are two social commentary books about my Generation Y and how our brains have been trained to be, well, useless.
Like I said, I’m writing this before reading the books, and I’m going to give you all a review once I get finished. But here’s some of my thoughts now on the subjects presented.
The way my mind is trained and conditioned is so short term, relying on instant gratification. Because of this, it can be really difficult for me to sit down and read a book. The book I’m attempting to read for pleasure now is “The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood,” and it’s really good. I’m still about half way through it when I’ve been on it for about three months. If it’s hard for me to read for pleasure, then it’s really hard for me to read for class. My mind gets so distracted, and after a little while I can’t focus at all. Then I just end up surfing the web. I stopped reading at night (but that’s because of Netflix). I sometimes can’t even focus on a movie. I catch myself browsing on my phone, checking Twitter, even playing Angry Birds. And that’s when I don’t have my laptop out.
It could be ADHD, but I know it’s not just me. One of my friends checks Facebook on his phone when he’s at a stoplight. I don’t think he’s addicted to Facebook, I think he just gets too bored at a stoplight. Our generation has become so easily bored because we are used to constant going, constant activity, and constant entertainment.
It’s not just the constancy of everything. We are trained to have every one of our questions answered immediately, and this is hindering our critical thinking skills. When I have an argument with a friend whether it be about sports, history or anything else, the argument is solved immediately by Google, or there’s an App for it.
Can you imagine traveling without an iPod? I remember using a cassette walkman on trips to Utah. I would be so bored and impatient if that was today. Very limited selection and also having to fast forward to the song I want. Flights over oceans would be so long! We are truly in a new age of constant and portable entertainment, and it might be having serious effect on our ability to think and reflect.
One day this summer, I’m going to throw it all away and go back to basics. No phone, no iPod, no computer, no internet, no TV. Of course there are going to be exceptions to this (using my phone as an alarm clock, or the computer at work), but for the most part, I’m going cold turkey. I’ll read, sit outside, reflect, whatever. And try to remember what it would be like to live before the technology boom. It’s going to be rough.
After I finish my books, I’ll give a review and reflection. The big question is: Will I even be able to finish?