because social media is making us dumb
Never before have we had more information at the push of a button and yet society is somehow helpless. We used to rely on the local newspaper or listen to one of three TV stations to report things we needed to know like, “Is it going to storm this week?” “Is there a killer living next door to me?” “Are the fryers on sale at the Piggly Wiggly?”
We were once a nation of informed, capable adults, but now that we have 4 million news sources, for some reason, we know nothing. We are dumb as boards and helpless as a spotted runt pup.
Of course, you can guess I’m going to come down on the side that newspapers solve all our problems, but honestly, I’ve always been a newspaper reader. My grandparents sent me a $10 bill in a birthday card while I was in college and I used it to get the student rate for the local newspaper. My future husband saw me with the paper and thought I was dreamy smart. That’s the power of the press because I was actually checking for sales at Gayfers, which I think was very smart.
When my children were young, friends would ask, “How did you know about the story time, puppet show, concert or big ship coming into town?” They were always amazed to know I read about the activities in the newspaper.
Now that social media floods us with information, things are worse than ever. You can’t believe half of what you read and the details change depending on the source.
Local groups like, “What’s happening in The Town” or “The Old Neighborhood Group” don’t provide information as much as they let us observe the confused and befuddled masses.
“Where can I get a salad?” asked one woman. Really? How did we ever find bowls of lettuce before the internet? “Does anyone know what this is?” they ask beneath a photo of a lizard or a dandelion or a croissant. “What’s a good church around here?” “What should I name my dog?” My favorite was the man who said, “I just moved here from Destin. Can anyone tell me what the best beach around here is?” — “Destin, doofus” was the obvious answer given in various forms over 200 times. Another said, “I just moved here from up North and it’s too hot. Can anyone tell me where to go to snow ski?” Oh . . . they told him.
Social media has made us helpless. We don’t know how to research anything and would be shocked to learn there’s an actual building in most cities with thousands of books we can read that will educate us beyond anything we’ve ever dreamed. Instead of putting forth an ounce of effort to unearth information on our own, we’ve grown into a population who find it easier for others to do the work for us. We need to award T-shirts that say, “Too lazy to google” and “What’s a library?” or “How can I find a newspaper?”
In a few weeks, helpless parents will ask, “What day does school begin?” and people eager to look knowledgeable will spoon feed them the information instead of just suggesting they visit the school’s web site. Then again, the next question from the clueless parents would be, “How do I find the web site?” If only everyone read the newspaper.
This story first appeared on AL.com