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  • Are we sophisticatedly narcissistic?

       January 06, 2009

    My friend Andrew wrote an interesting article last night about the ways in which technology is making us dumb. He says:

    Why do I jump to the conclusion that Iím some sort of moron? I donít feel like I stand up to most of the identifiers of an educated individual. One, I know very little of current events. I donít live in a cave, so Iím aware of some very significant events but I donít watch the news, I donít read normal news websites like CNN. Iím up to speed on most tech news, but I live in a bubble.

    What are my main sources for news? TechCrunch, Boing Boing, Digg and Reddit. Just now I look at the top headline on CNN ďCries from Gaza: ĎWe are in the eye of the stormíĒ and you know what? I know almost nothing about what they are talking about. Iíve read some headlines about something going on in Gaza but honestly, I wasnít that interested. I was more interested to read that Steve Jobs was losing weight because of a hormone imbalance and thatís partly why heís not going to be doing the keynote at MacWorld. This is because Iím sophisticatedly narcissistic. I have all the news and information at my fingertips and I have no excusable reason for not keeping up on current national and world events.

    At one time I added the New York Times and CNN to my RSS feed reader because I felt it was something I should do but after a few weeks I realized I just didnít care and it was just noise to me. One thing I remember having to learn when I was in middle school was the 50 states and the capitals of all 50 states. Iím sure at this point I could do a pretty good job labeling the 50 states on a map but Iíd be pretty hard pressed to name all 50 state capitals.

    Not to long ago there was a magazine that had a cover article ďIs Google Making Us Dumb?Ē or something like that. I didnít actually read the article but thatís a question that some of my friends and coworkers discussed at the time. Some would argue that Iím not dumb for not knowing these things because I donít need to know it, I can look it up. Iím in front of a computer probably 70% of my waking hours and I have an iPhone with internet access in my pocket for the rest of the time. I suspect GPS navigation systems will cause a similar dependency where at some point there will be people who wonít be able drive anywhere without the use of one.

    Technology isn't making us dumb because it's making us lazy. Rather, I'd argue that technology is making us less aware of things we don't care about, but maybe should.

    As much as I bitch about media bias, reporters and editors do serve a purpose in deciding what's news and what's important and basically, what we should know. Back in the olden days, they'd use that finely honed nose for news to serve up nightly broadcasts and daily editions that everyone reads.

    Of course, if you're like me, you'll question their news judgment and seek out what you need to know on your own. That's not being "dumb" or, I'd argue, it's not sophisticatedly narcissistic either. Or maybe it is. It's using technology for your own benefit - as defined by you. If that's dumb, I don't want to be smart. But I don't want to be narcissistic either. Is just reading the news you care about narcissistic? I don't think so. Just reading news about yourself would be, but I'd hate to expand the definition of narcissism to include what are basically just self-interested actions.

    Posted by at January 6, 2009 08:30 AM

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    #  January 6th, 2009 10:45 AM      Squibbly
    I think that since there is so much more information available, its easier to be willfully ignorant of some things. But its also easier to stay well informed on those things that are important to us. I think its a fair exchange.  



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