Thursday, March 26, 2009

"The Sum of Intelligence on the Planet is a Constant; the Population is Growing."

Sometimes I worry about the intelligence of future generations, specifically here in America. Children are increasingly becoming less and less required (or even encouraged) to read with the proliferation of video technology, and this coupled with the rapid growth in text messaging is leaving children unable to spell. With all the ways we communicate with each other electronically, face to face human interaction is becoming less and less prevalent. In a grand irony, our very need to constantly stay connected to one another may just be the thing that tears us apart.

Just imagine a world where we are "chained" to our cellphones, unable to pull ourselves away from them for even a moment for the fear that we will "miss something", while the world around us passes us by. We avoid one-on-one face-to-face human contact, and even when we are in such situations our lack of basic language skills that should be learned from reading leave us incapable of being able to express ourselves in an articulate and coherent manner.

If you ever get a chance to read the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I highly recommend you do so. Bradbury's book is about a world in the not so distant future where society has become entirely hedonistic and anti-intellectual. Children roam the streets at night seeking violence and mayhem to distract themselves from the adults who are too busy watching wall-sized televisions and imagining the programs which they view to be real social interactions to take care of their children. In this world, books have been outlawed due to the ways in which they threaten the common man and make him feel insignificant and unintelligent. The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman and, since house are now fire-proof, the job of the firemen is to find and burn any and all books.

The most jarring thing about Fahrenheit 451 is not that the world has gone to hell in a hand basket. There were plenty of similar dystopian books written about the same time. What makes this book stand out to me above other classics such as Brave New World and 1984 is that there is no outside force that sought to remove books from our homes. There is no Big Brother or drug that makes sure we stay placated and unintelligent. We did it to ourselves. The majority of people stopped caring about knowledge, and the intelligent minority threatened the happiness of the masses by making them feel like they weren't good enough. We wanted books gone, and the government gave us what we wanted.

So, please, I'm begging you: put down your cellphone for an hour and have an honest-to-goodness real life conversation with someone. Or pick up a book and read something that will expand your mind and make you more intelligent. The world doesn't have to be like this. We are in charge of our own destiny, and it's up to us to make sure that we as human beings don't devolve into glorified monkeys. It's not too late.

“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”


Shane S. said...

I agree. There, you happy?

I recognize cell phones as a necessity in today's culture, but I don't like them. And I don't like texts when a simple phone call would be easier and more efficient. Don't even get me started on Twitter.

Face-to-face convos are a necessary part of our relationships as human beings.

Also: it's got electrolytes.

Brint Montgomery said...

I got about a third of the way through this but go bored. Could you call me and just give me the summary? thanks

The Wanderer said...

That's cute, Montgomery.