I have to confess I get frustrated when people complain about technology dumbing us down. The fear is often expressed that short attention spans will be forced on us by Twitter’s 140 character updates or that we will all succumb to mob mentality as memes sweep through Facebook. Writers like Nick Carr and Andrew Keen appear to be making successful careers out of fuelling these fears.
What a bunch of wimps. Are we really that out of control? Do we just blindly gravitate to the lowest common denominator of what technology makes possible? I don’t think so.
Yes people will play and tinker and possibly become obsessive when they first discover the delights of the internet. We all do. I did twenty years ago with Usenet. Part of this is that we have been trained to see our entertainment and education as other people’s responsibility. We are not used to taking responsibility for ourselves but the internet forces this on us eventually. Eventually most of us get bored. Most of us decide to grow up and take responsibility for our time and attention. Most of us discover that the internet is the biggest, best, learning machine we have ever had. It is collective learning on steroids.
Most of us will be all right.