2010-01-14

Dumber than Dumbest

Regarding Mark Bauerlein's The Dumbest Generation - How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future. Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30, I can only say that there is such a thing as dumber than the dumbest. He may be complaining about the digital age stupefying young Americans, turning them into the dumbest generation. But deep down, what he fear/hate is that young Americans, armed by digital age communications technologies, are turning the hierarchy of society upside town and resist submitting to adult authority and adulthood values.

Just read the following quotes from the book:

The Dumbest Generation ... doesn't invoke an ideal past of multitudes of studious kids preferring Shakespeare to cartoons and activist kids debating the size of government. That never existed and never will. What did exist, though, was a climate in which the voices of the elders and the value of history and civics, books and ideas, exercised more pressure on the young. Teen social life had a limit, and in those other hours the forces of adulthood were felt, if resented. ... Parent and teachers have a new rival in the lives of kids: not just a circle of friends, but a spreading glossy marketplace of communications technology with a certified youth meaning. Put them together - the e-tools and the collective wills of teens - and they look invincible.


Fewer books are checked out of public libraries and more videos. More kids go to the mall and fewer to the museum. Lunchroom conversations never drift into ideology, but Web photos pass nonstop from handheld to handheld. If parents and teachers and reporters don't see it now, they are blind. If they don't respond, they're unconscionable. It's time for over-30-year-olds of all kinds to speak out ... Adults everywhere need to align against youth ignorance and apathy, and not fear the "old fogy" tag and recoil from the smirks of the young. The moral poles need to reverse, with the young no longer setting the pace for right conduct and cool thinking. Let's tell the truth. The Dumbest Generation will cease being dumb only when it regards adolescence as an inferior realm of petty strivings and adulthood as a real of civic, historical, and cultural awareness that puts them in touch with the perennial ideas and struggles.


Embracing the digital age may turn you into a member of the dumbest generation. Not embracing it, though, may well make you dumber than the dumbest.

Or, don't trust a certain English professor from Emory University named Bauerlein.