A Generation of Dunces?

December 11th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Will the Internet spawn a generation of uneducated louts?

John Halenar, who reads two newspapers a day, is concerned that it might.

“Although the Internet is valuable for searching out facts, very rarely do I stumble upon something of interest while browsing online,” writes John in a letter-to-the-editor in The Record (12/10/06, p. O-3).

“I look at two newspapers every day, and I’m always amazed at how many interesting stories I find–oftentimes on topics I never even suspected would be of interest to me.”

Do you agree with John that the Internet’s ability to instantly search and find the content you need is both a blessing and a curse?

Or does surfing the Net make you as well read as — well, reading the daily newspaper?

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7 responses about “A Generation of Dunces?”

  1. Craig Hysell said:

    I wouldn’t consider reading a newspaper making one “well-read” (perhaps “informed”) anymore than surfing Internet sites or reading direct mail pieces. These things are meant to grab your attention with sharp headlines, short (16 words or less) sentences and uncomplicated words. If it fails in any of these categories most of us will move on. We are busy people after all. (Who has the time to look up “ferriferous” on the way to the office?)

    I agree with Mr. Halenar in the respect that the Internet is great when researching facts. (It’s like having an entire library at the comfort of my fingertips.) But, it is also infested with myspacers, viral videos, porn and the mind-numbing glam of pop culture. Which is why I don’t browse very much either.

    Wanna be well-read? Take the time to read a book. Just make sure it pertains to something other than porn or pop culture, and doesn’t try to cover local, state, national and international news in one day. There is no substitute for books. None.

  2. Sean Woodruff said:

    I don’t think the internet will have anything to do with uneducated louts. We’ve always had them. In fact, I believe if you are going to use the internet, and believe anything you read on the net, you better be pretty educated. If not, you’ll end up sending your money to a Nigerian widow to help unlock vast fortunes of her deceased husband, who was the Minister of Foreign Finance, all for a small cut of said fortune.

    As for newspapers, I’m not sure how intelligent one has to be to think there are more interesting topics in a couple of newspapers than in the wild, wild west of the internet.

  3. Robert Kopacz said:

    I agree with Sean (he just beat me to the punch!) Dunces have always existed, and their literature has always existed. The only difference is that these days, the literature is much more visible and much more accessible thanks to the internet, TV etc. Although I enjoy reading both books and newspapers, I also like using my news reader to do a scan of what’s going on in the world, and have often come across many fascinating things on the internet. You just have to know where and how to look.

  4. Andrew Johnson said:

    Let me take a guess, Mr. John Halenar is over 60, may be even 70?

    Sorry, but what he is describing is edu-tainment. Reading two newspapers a day is nice for those who have time to do so. Fortunately for myself reading and writing is my full-time job.

    Blogs and forums put newspapers and magazines to shame. What I read in print I read weeks or months ago (assuming its not a current event, in which case I read it last night.)

    “very rarely do I stumble upon something of interest while browsing online” — is he serious? In the decade I have had internet access I have discovered and explored all of my hobbies, side interests, and ulimately career. A few “stumblings” have ended up putting a whole lot of money in my bank account.

    The problem isn’t the internet, its just the user who doesn’t know where to begin his exploration.

  5. Andrew Cavanagh said:

    This is just hilarious.

    When I was young I did work experience at a couple of newspapers (with the journalists and sub editors).

    Back then there was a really high ethic about the quality of the news you put in a paper.

    Facts were confirmed, sources were questioned and double verified – there was a whole process newspapers went through to verify accuracy.

    Today in newspapers most stories in newspapers are rewrites of press releases which are delivered – ONLINE straight to the journalists and editors computers.

    There’s just no budget any more for sending reporters out into the field.

    Most news from on site (where you see a photo in a paper) is collected by the photographer or over the phone or email by a reporter.

    If you’ve ever been in a news story in a paper then you know the accuracy is almost non-existant.

    I was also a syndicated columnist and I can tell you most newspapers today are full of sensationalist, poorly written garbage.

    The checks and measures have all but disappeared.

    The internet is simply multiplying information delivery.

    If you’re an uneducated lout you can find a boatload of garbage to interest you online.

    But if you’re a well informed intelligent citizen you’ll also find plenty of sites filled with high quality content.

    In most cases they’ll be filled with higher quality content than your local newspaper and you’ll be able to check multiple sources to check the accuracy of the information you find.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
    http://www.copywriting1.com

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