― Vice President Dan Quayle, speaking at a luncheon for the United Negro College Fund on May 9, 1989, mangling the Fund’s slogan “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Is the internet making us dumber? stupider? how about less bright? Listicles like this one could be one reason why we might not be that smart anymore. Maybe they’ve helped make us smarter than we used to be. Did listicles ever exist outside the internet, meaning a long, long time ago? Maybe in magazines, most of which were not meant for serious people, the way newspapers were, way back when.
Mel Brooks shows us an alternative past involving lists and tablets in his 1981 movie History of the World – Part 1.
Anyway, enough history. Here we go ―
- Before the internet, you needed to know and remember stuff, because you couldn’t just look it up online at the drop of a hat. You maybe could find out from a book, if you knew where to find one.
- Because you can look up practically anything now on the internet, some people think it’s making us smarter, especially about what our favorite celebrities have been up to lately.
- Without the internet, we couldn’t check on what our friends had for dinner and all the cool places they’ve been out to eat, unless we called them, which we don’t want to bother with, just text. Everything would have to be texts, which is probably okay.
- Spending lots of time playing computer games is good because it trains you for a good job with the military remotely piloting drones to drop bombs on terrorists over in their country from an undisclosed location somewhere else, and that’s really smart because otherwise they’d be over here blowing themselves up.
- Knowing a lot of internet and computer stuff is also a smart way to get a job with the National Security Agency (NSA) looking into everybody’s business.
- There’s no need to develop social skills when there are social media networks like Facebook and Twitter around.
- The internet is also good for getting things off your chest by commenting online, and you don’t have to worry about being nice about it, because on the internet no one knows who you are, unless they’re with the NSA.
- It used to be that before the internet you could be bored a lot. Now with smartphones and tablets that you always have with you, you don’t ever have to be bored and think about stuff, because you can do other things online, like Facebook or Twitter again.
- According to Hebb’s Law, which you can look up online, when your brain spends a lot of time doing something, it gets smarter doing that thing. Even though the brain is mostly fat, it’s like a muscle that way.
- Your brain is wired just like the internet. Well, actually, since your brain was here first, especially if you were born a generation or more ago, the internet is wired like your brain. Not that any central authority planned it that way, it just happened. If you’re an old person, that’s probably why you might not understand everything about the internet, because you have to think about it, instead of being wired up ready to go from early on.
Mike Judge shows us a possible future in his 2006 movie Idiocracy. Okay, it might be more than just a possible future and might be closer to now than is comfortable. Warning: foul language.
Okay, that pretty much wraps it up. It was fun. Now you know the internet isn’t necessarily making us any dumber, just different, but don’t think about it too hard or your brain’ll seize up and crash like you drank something really cold really fast. You can’t email Microsoft tech support about that.