I suspect the Internet has become the cocktail party of our era, where people sit around and exchange dumb ideas.
But if the Internet doesn’t foster thinking, what does?
If you really want to learn how to think, turn off your computer and take out a very low-tech invention. A pencil. Now instead of typing 100 words per stupid idea on your computer, slowly and painfully write an idea down, taking time to think about it.
Then, put down 10 bullet points, each carefully thought out, explaining why that idea is so great.
That outline, by the way, represents much more than just an outline. It represents a long road traveled by mankind, a road charted by Aristotle, Roger Bacon and Erasmus. A road that was sidetracked by the Dark Ages, riddled with superstition, but a road that finally arrived at the Enlightenment of the 18th century. A well-organized, well-thought-out outline, backed up by evidence, represents the many mental miles humankind has traveled to achieve logical thought.
Why am I making such a big deal about all of this? I suspect the Internet and word processors, plus texting, are not helping us to think any better, they merely let us express our dumb ideas faster. People have lost the ability to really examine those opinions we all toss around so freely, whether the subject be Afghanistan , NAFTA or Ms. Cyrus. Look if you can text your idea to someone in under five seconds, how good is that idea?
Instead of painstakingly writing our ideas on a piece of paper, then carefully developing an outline to back them up, we type 1,000 words per minute, throw our masterpiece on the computer screen, then send it out to the world. We condense our thoughts into bumper stickers and post them on Twitter. Speed is everything, the thought process is nothing. And in that speed, the written word, the very symbol of man’s thinking ability, gets crushed under 2,000 tons of data.
Quite simply, we have run out of time to examine our thoughts. We have run out of time to put them on a piece of paper and examine them. The consequences? It may lead to a society where literature will consist of vampires and middle-age sexual fantasies . MTV will be a major intellectual influence on our children, and no one will have the brains or time to figure out how the Red Sox are actually leading the AL East.
I’m not saying any of this will happen, but I’m a bit worried that the written word and the human brain, which evolved together, are finally going their separate ways.
But then again, with more than one billion gigabits of computer processing at our fingertips, who needs a thought process? It’s much better to join a mindless chat group on the CB radio of the age, the Internet. With ease and the speed of keyboards and Smart Phones, we can all bury a dumb idea under 1,000 words of nonsense. Remember dumb ideas, unlike wine, do not improve with age.