Newly awarded Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing has used her acceptance speech to tell the world that the internet makes us dumb.
According to Lessing, who was too old and ill to make the speech herself and instead had someone else read it out, the inanities of the internet have seduced a generation, and we live in a fragmenting culture where people read nothing and know nothing of the world.
It gets better, apparently if you study “computers” you lack culture as well:
We are in a fragmenting culture, where our certainties of even a few decades ago are questioned and where it is common for young men and women, who have had years of education, to know nothing of the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some speciality or other, for instance, computers
Whilst Lessing’s words should be taken somewhat in context: the ditherings of an ignorant old woman, Keensian (as in Andrew Keen) anti-internet speeches grow as the cultural elite in society continue to have their previous (often born-in-to) positions eroded. The likes of Andrew Keen and Doris Lessing ignore the many benefits the internet has provided in expanding access to knowledge to many, many more people than who may otherwise have had no access before. Whilst it may be easy to mock the utterances of hundreds of millions of bloggers and social networking site users, the 21st century will be remembered as the time that communication was democratized, a time where the power of a few was replaced by the power of many. Let them eat their elitist intellectual cake, because the world is changing for the better, and there is nothing they can do to stop this.
For all those dumb people reading this who might never had read anything of substance before, may I suggest Wikipedia, it’s apparently a place where you can read interesting things, but it isn’t on paper, so it might not count. :-)
The Guardian has the full text of Lessing’s speech here, which I note aside from the internet comments is a great, and often inspiring read.
(image credit: Marknad)