On Mon. Dec 3 Professor Lenig and a panel explore Connectivity: Communication or Disruption? at
6 p.m. in the Ledbetter Auditorium
Neil Postman wrote a book in 1985 called, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Public Discourse in the age of Show Business in which he said the future would be less like George Orwell’s 1984, and more like Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World where people addict themselves to entertainment and drugs rather than the draconian control of states. Why does the state need to control you when people are in the grip of opioids, Prozac, Netflix, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter feeds from important but never available friends, and constantly ringing cellphones with life changing messages about death, birth, divorce, or a special offer on auto insurance? Postman goes further saying that certain forms and mediums militate against content. That is TV doesn’t make it think, it makes you watch. Commercials don’t give you choices; they preclude choices. Internet feeds don’t present you with all the news, just the things advertisers and demographers want you to see. In 2010, almost ten years ago, PBS posted a Frontline program entitled Digital Nation in which students at MIT were observed nearly failing classes because in their minds they always had to be online and connected. Their performance, some of the brightest kids in the nation, declined markedly when they were obsessively connected. Imagine how things are now when most students not only have phones and feeds distracting them, but for $10 a month they can have an endless feed of films, games and media available to them? When South Park parodied Warcraft the gang became so obsessed playing the game they gained weight, ruined their health, and neglected all bodily functions to win the game. Is our addiction to the online world making us better or producing a generation of attention-deficit, distracted, semi-conscious citizens, unable to focus, unable to navigate life and most of all, unable to function.
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