Saturday, September 19, 2015

Video and the great dumbing down

Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, there is a loosely aligned conspiracy to fill our lives with video.

At the time of this writing, AT&T is pushing a phone/Internet/DirectTV bundle with the following sales pitch: the company will make sure that you are never without Internet-enabled video content. 

Commercial spots for the plan show video obsessed users watching movies, reality shows, and music videos on their cell phones in every possible scenario: while riding in the passenger seat of a car, while waiting at the bus stop, even while mountain climbing.

There is, of course, very little incentive for AT&T to make the radical suggestion that people might fill such idle moments with an activity such as reading

The consumption of video is not inherently bad. Yes, I watch TV too. However, the sad fact of the matter is that most video content only serves to dumb us down, both as individuals and as a population. When was the last time you gained any real knowledge or insight from Jersey Shore or the latest Ariana Grande song?

Moreover, video consumption has become the path of least resistance in our constantly connected, Internet- and mass-media-obsessed world. 

Some conscious effort is required to resist the onslaught, but the results are worthwhile. By and large, reading books makes you a lot smarter than watching screens ever will.