Pre-Internet, not knowing the meaning of a word was a pretty serious problem.
Someone who disliked you could put you on the spot, in front of a group, by quizzing you on the meaning of a word.
“Come on, everyone knows what that word means. Don’t you?”
“If you know so much, then what’s it mean?”
“Oh no, I’m not telling. You first.”
That queasy, anxious feeling isn’t gone; it just doesn’t happen nearly as much, because the average person has the confidence that they can simply get the answer from their computer or phone.
That’s a more serious problem. That sick sensation is the only reason you learn. To make it go away is to embrace indolence.
Think about it. You learned in school not because you wanted to; because you had to. It wasn’t optional. You smartened up in school so that you wouldn’t be ridiculed. If you didn’t learn from books, you figured out some loophole, to get through to graduation (or not). If you didn’t graduate, you sure as fuck didn’t pal around with the ones who did.
The methods employed to make kids stay in school are indistinguishable from bullying. Some lessons in life, you only learn from a beating. You ever meet people who grew up without a beating? They’re not spoiled assholes who believe they’re better than everyone else, right?
Facebook and Google are successful not because of what they offer, but because of how well they play on your insecurities. You got that sick feeling from not knowing something, and Daddy Google made everything alright. You felt lonely and scared, and Mommy Facebook brought all your friends over. You’re getting crucial emotional needs met by a computer.
That’s brain death.
I used to think my generation would never suffer from Alzheimer’s, due to our predilections towards complex objects and technology. Now I think we’ll go senile in a matter of years. Why remember anything? What’s the point? Why talk to people face-to-face, when you can communicate from the safety of your computer room? Why shop, when it’s far more convenient to order from Amazon?
Why become well-read? Millions of books are available on a screen at the touch of a button. You could just claim you’ve read something, and then Google the highlights later. It’s become the path of least resistance, so you know billions of other humans are backsliding into mundanity right alongside you. What a golden age. Books have individual smells, did you know that?
If you collect enough of them, they can really make your home stink like an intellectual dwells in it. All those easily-torn paper pages, touched by untold numbers of fingers and thumbs for who knows how long. Not to mention the space they take up, and how heavy they can become. You actually have to move the TV and computer so that you have a place to shelve all your books. What if your house burns down? You’re gonna wish you’d scanned everything to a cloud, then. Books burn like kindling.
Ten years ago, I was almost killed by books, when a wall of shelves collapsed onto me. Do you think a laptop or a Kindle poses that kind of threat? The average smartphone weighs a few ounces. Plus they all break when dropped, which means people generally don’t put them on high shelves in the first place. And, who did I think I was anyway, carefully shelving hundreds of books like some sort of learned man from an old TV show? What unmitigated gall! (I hadn’t fastened the shelves to anything but drywall. Lesson learned.)
Don’t you see? Books are inconvenient. Better to dispose of them, and replace them with a single piece of technology, so that everything you get to know is controlled by one company. Books, records, relationships; they all take up too much space. Space is for rich people. They’re the ones who bought it all, squeezing the rest of us into whatever nook or cranny we can fit inside.
Fifty years ago, what a family knew was based on the books in their home. Now, the average family’s terror at the prospect of looking stupider than their peers causes them to seek more knowledge than they need, or can properly retain. No human mind guides the introduction to new knowledge; it’s all linked in an endless, lifeless chain. You can start out researching remedies for athlete’s foot and end up having seen atrocities of war. You can be a schoolkid and trump anything imaginable regarding revulsion, violence or pornography. You can be the one who gets every joke and reference on South Park, and lets all the neighborhood kids join in.
That is exploitation of your insecurities.
“Keeping up with Joneses” now means having a family member who is not only computer literate but computer savvy. You need someone who can help you avoid high retail prices on technology and software. You need cable and Internet, because god forbid one of the other parents knows something you don’t. God forbid you lose that “edge”. Can you even imagine, if someone you knew saw you without the latest smartphone?
You’d be just like dumb old Uncle So-and-So, fifty years back, who didn’t know the meaning of the word “pervasive”. Or the capital of Mississippi. He’d just sit there, all dumb-looking, while we all laughed. Nowadays, he could just look it up on his phone, because having access to knowledge is the same thing as knowledge, right?
That’s why, outside of actual school, no one is teaching you. They’re just selling you access to knowledge. Internet isn’t free. It’s too easy to create jobs selling digital dust. As there is no longer a legitimate reason to wizen, before long there will be no wisdom.
When there’s no wisdom, lots and lots of people die. Millions.
You can’t buy or sell wisdom. It can only be earned. So be assured, as we continue into the future, wisdom will be more and more derided. People who cannot become wise will label wisdom “prejudice”. Wisdom is terrifying to emotional hysterics because it undoes their charades. There is always precedent for charlatanism. There’s always a prior example of horse shit.
If you look away from the screen, and the world stops ending, than it wasn’t ending to begin with. It was all charlatan scare tactics.
You have to be sick before you can get well. Pain and suffering are the only things anyone truly learns from, no matter how much they think they know.