It’s an interesting question that mommy’s heard, especially in writing circles. There are some who think instant access to information has made people too lazy to think. Why use your brain when you can Google it, and have an instant answer? And the brain is a muscle which, like every other muscle, will atrophy if you don’t use it.
People don’t fear showing ignorance like they used to. The “there’s no such thing as a dumb question” movement has given rise to people asking things that they would have been ashamed to say ten years ago. Just yesterday, mommy said that a writer friend asked what was the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked, and she couldn’t respond without putting her job in jeopardy or offending people she personally knew. Plus, picking one would be hard. Mommy said the answer would have gone back to 2000 until the beginning of this year, and since then it’s been beat 7 times. Picking the worst was impossible. I heard them, and every one of them made me wonder if average IQ is slipping. I’d be interested to see some pre and post Internet statistics. That might make for a good doctoral thesis!
Or would it? Another thing mommy read recently is that the Sunday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person would have been exposed to during an entire lifetime in the 17th – 18th centuries. That’s shocking even when you factor in decreased life expectancies! This theory held that our problem is the opposite: we’re more intelligent, but suffering from information overload to process it all. Hense, stupid questions.
But then again, if you look at our modern entertainment in books, TV, and movies, the plots are more complex now than they were 20 years ago. The 1980’s ruruns are about the kerfluffal when the bell tower at the church broke, or when the check got lost in the mail and the ditsy roommate went to a loan shark to borrow $75 at 35% interest. Now, you have to go to Netflix to watch from Season 1, Episode 1 to understand tonight’s episode in Season 7, episode 2. Mommy marvels at how people squawked when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine decided to do a 6 episode continuous story arc back in the 90’s because “it’s not fair to new viewers.” Now, long story arcs are the norm, and expected! In fact, when she ventured into science fiction, she was advised to create a world she would be comfortable writing all of her scifi books in, because scifi and fantasy readers expect each writer to “brand” themselves in a particular world.
Then there’s theory 3: we’ve gone from the Baby Boomer “we don’t talk about that” generation to the millennial “we talk about EVERYTHING” generation. Case in point: the elderly person whose family goes to great lengths to cover up mental illness, while their granddaughter runs an open blog about her struggles with bi-polar disorder. The world certainly has changed, and the proliferation of information through the Internet and other sources no doubt has contributed to this “opening up” of society.
So which is it? Has technology made people dumber with information at a click (or tap)? Has it made people smarter, but too overloaded to retain what they know? Or are people the same as they’ve always been, but more vocal about what they do and don’t know? They’re interesting question to ponder.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.