Stop Calling My Generation Dumb

blog This is a rant. I’m taking an article that I don’t wish to link to and providing my thoughts and opinions on several sections of the article. The article is a book review on “The Dumbest Generation”. So, for clarification, my rant is actually against the book. For the record, I think the author is an asshole.

My opinions do not reflect that of my employers in any way, shape, or form.    


In the four minutes it probably takes to read this review, you will have logged exactly half the time the average 15- to 24-year-old now spends reading each day. That is, if you even bother to finish. If you are perusing this on the Internet, the big block of text below probably seems daunting, maybe even boring. Who has the time? Besides, one of your Facebook friends might have just posted a status update!

Excuse me, but it took me more than 4 minutes to read this review, and just about every early adopter I know of would’ve probably skimmed it and they’re all older than me. Who cares about a Facebook status? I’m only on Facebook for networking purposes. If you would’ve mentioned a Twitter update or new blog post, that would’ve been more correct as it pertains to me.

The way Bauerlein sees it, something new and disastrous has happened to America’s youth with the arrival of the instant gratification go-go-go digital age. The result is, essentially, a collective loss of context and history, a neglect of "enduring ideas and conflicts." Survey after painstakingly recounted survey reveals what most of us already suspect: that America’s youth know virtually nothing about history and politics. And no wonder. They have developed a "brazen disregard of books and reading."

You’re absolutely right, I have no clue about history and politics. Both of these subjects are full of lies. However, I know more than enough about my history and my culture’s history. It’s one of the reasons I went to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Most of history is screwed up in more ways than you can interpret this article and politics rarely include facts. However, my ignorance of both of these subjects has nothing to do with the fact that I read at least 4 books a month. It has to do with the fact that I choose to ignore them because they’re rarely the full truth. I’d rather live for and learn about the present rather than the past.

Apparently you don’t read either. If you did, you’d know that “and no wonder” is not a sentence loser.

The problem is that instead of using the Web to learn about the wide world, young people instead mostly use it to gossip about each other and follow pop culture, relentlessly keeping up with the ever-shifting lingua franca of being cool in school. The two most popular websites by far among students are Facebook and MySpace. "Social life is a powerful temptation," Bauerlein explains, "and most teenagers feel the pain of missing out."

I use the web to network, learn more about my areas of expertise, and discover new areas and topics to ponder. I also use the web to keep up with the music industry, the education industry, and business connections. I use Facebook for school only so that I can connect with my peers when I have questions about assignments. I use the phone for gossip. It’s way too tedious to do it over the internet using a keyboard. FAIL!

These sites are popular for networking purposes. In fact, these sites are teaching my peers new ways to connect with people. It’s helping us keep in touch with friends that are miles or entire continents away from us. Facebook and Myspace are defining how this generation can use the internet to make a million useful connections on top of gossiping or following pop culture. Didn’t you do the same thing during your childhood, only face to face? I thought so. Now shut up!

This ceaseless pipeline of peer-to-peer activity is worrisome, he argues, not only because it crowds out the more serious stuff but also because it strengthens what he calls the "pull of immaturity." Instead of connecting them with parents, teachers and other adult figures, "[t]he web . . . encourages more horizontal modeling, more raillery and mimicry of people the same age." When Bauerlein tells an audience of college students, "You are six times more likely to know who the latest American Idol is than you are to know who the speaker of the U.S. House is," a voice in the crowd tells him: " ‘American Idol’ IS more important."

Have you ever tried to meet a teacher during their office hours in this day and age? If you haven’t, let me clue you in. IT’S TOUGH AS HELL. Teachers have lives just like we do.

As for American Idol, I don’t know who’s on American Idol let alone what channel it’s on or what time it comes on. I do know who the speaker of the U.S. House is thanks to Twitter and Google. Did I ever learn such knowledge in school? No I didn’t because people like you are helping educational institutes promote the history instead of the present. I think they’re all scandalous people anyway and it’s not like they’re listening to any of us after the elections are over, are they? NO!

Bauerlein also frets about the nature of the Internet itself, where people "seek out what they already hope to find, and they want it fast and free, with a minimum of effort." In entering a world where nobody ever has to stick with anything that bores or challenges them, "going online habituates them to juvenile mental habits."

Here’s another not so big secret for you. My biggest challenge on the web is finding new and interesting concepts, topics, theories, and tools to talk about. When I do find these things, I have to research them to a certain extent. I need to know who the leaders are in the area I’m researching and see what they have to say. Then, I have to formulate my own thoughts and conclusions. There’s nothing fast or easy. In fact, I’m in the most challenging stage of my life and it has absolutely nothing to do with what I learned in school nor what I’ve read in a book.

And all this feeds on itself. Increasingly disconnected from the "adult" world of tradition, culture, history, context and the ability to sit down for more than five minutes with a book, today’s digital generation is becoming insulated in its own stultifying cocoon of bad spelling, civic illiteracy and endless postings that hopelessly confuse triviality with transcendence. Two-thirds of U.S. undergraduates now score above average on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, up 30% since 1982, he reports.

I have so much work to do that I rarely have time to sit and read a book. This isn’t a generational issue either. How many adults do you know have quality time to themselves let alone enough time to sit down and read a 400 page book. There’s only so many hours in a day! I definitely spend more than 5 minutes reading a book and I go through enough articles in a week to say that I read at least two books a week. Take that Mr. Smarty Pants!

I’m not narcissistic. I know I’m the shit! How do I know this? Check my resume on LinkedIn. Read my posts on ReadWriteWeb. View my conversations on FriendFeed. Check out the pages and the sites that I bookmark. After you’ve done all of this, come back to this website,, and look at my conclusions. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way. I’m proud of my accomplishments and abilities. There’s nothing wrong with that and I’m sure my peers feel the same way.

At fault is not just technology but also a newly indulgent attitude among parents, educators and other mentors, who, Bauerlein argues, lack the courage to risk "being labeled a curmudgeon and a reactionary."

I don’t know what schools you’ve been looking at, but my teachers do not give handouts and neither do my parents. My mother does not play that bull**** in her house and neither does my father nor any other elder in my family.

But is he? The natural (and anticipated) response would indeed be to dismiss him as your archetypal cranky old professor who just can’t understand why "kids these days" don’t find Shakespeare as timeless as he always has. Such alarmism ignores the context and history he accuses the youth of lacking — the fact that mass ignorance and apathy have always been widespread in anti-intellectual America, especially among the youth. Maybe something is different this time. But, of course. Something is different every time.

Shakespeare isn’t timeless to me because I don’t connect with his topics nor his logic. Maya Angelou is timeless to me. Malcolm X is timeless to me. Rita Mae Brown, Katherine Forrest, Audre Lorde, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington,  Terry McMillan, Dorothy West,  Jacqueline Carey, Emily Dickenson, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, and a ton more are timeless to me. My generation doesn’t need to be in love with Shakespeare just to be considered “intellectual”.


All in all, I may be an exception in the field of technology, but I’m not an exception overall. My generation isn’t dumb by far. We’re taking over the world, changing the rules, and some people just don’t like it. You know I think those people should do? lol I’ll let you ponder that on your own. Kthnxbye! :P

Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on