Don’t I have enough worries of my own without worrying about what other people worry about?
Yeah, so it probably wasn’t a smart move to check this out of my local library:
This collection of brief essays covers everything from the probable, such as health issues, to the unimaginable, like global thermonuclear annihilation and the danger of aliens (the extraterrestrial kind) .
But the article that really caught my eye is “Internet Drivel,” by David Gelernter, a computer scientist at Yale.
Here’s what he has to say about how the web dumbs down future generations, at least until the next great thing comes along:
Personal letters have traditionally been an important literary medium…. Why have no (or not many) “collected e-mails” been published, on paper or online? It’s not only that e-mail writing is quick and casual; even more, it’s the fact that we pay so little attention to the e-mails we get. Probably there are many writes out there whose e-mails are worth collecting. But it’s unlikely that anyone will ever notice. And since e-mail has, of course, demolished the traditional personal letter, a major literary genre is on its last legs.
When I was with the newspaper, I sometimes had to edit work that came from our high school and college interns. I frequently asked myself and colleagues, what are they teaching these kids in English classes, because it sure isn’t how to write. Gelernter offers an opinion,
Writing ability is hard to measure, but we can try, and the news is not good. Recently the London Daily Mail reported on yet another depressing evaluation of American students: “While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities [the school concluded], objective test scores actually show their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts.”
You can blame whatever you like: video games, sports, other extracurricular activities which weren’t around in the 1960s, etc. Plus the notion that “everyone has a talent,” even if they don’t. Sorry, not every kid is special or gifted.
I think it’s a breakdown of social structure altogether. In my day (said the old man), I would never call the parents of my friends by their first names. That’s just one example. Nowadays, people try to get away with whatever they can and others are too indifferent or lazy to correct them. Would you ever insist that a kid call your Mr., Ms., Dr., or whatever your proper designation might be? I had a young fella at work who actually called me “sir” until I told him to stop, that it made me feel too old. That was the way he was brought up and good for his family. But that was my choice and peope like him are increasingly rare, I fear.
That same informality extends to the written word, whether personal or for business. Do they even teach kids how to write a business letter any more?
Oh, and by the way, the London Daily Mail? Why doesn’t England worry about their own students and teach them the proper way to spell.