The book deals primarily with college age young people and states the case that instead of using all of the new technology to learn about everything the world has to offer, they spend most of their time networking with friends about extremely trivial matters. They no longer read books, visit museums or stay up to date on world events. When on a computer, they read like the letter "F". They read the first sentence in it's entirety but as they move down the page they only read about half the sentence and finally near the bottom of the page, they merely skim the first couple of words. It's so bad in fact, they'll often ignore information presented in pdf format because the page is too plain. When they go to the library it's to get a movie rather than a book. To them, it's all about You Tube, Facebook, My Space and texting their pals.
It isn't funny anymore. The Dumbest Generation cares little for history books, civic principles, foreign affairs, comparative religions, and serious media and art, and it knows less. Careening through their formative years, they don't catch the knowledge bug, and tradition might as well be a foreign word.. Other things monopolize their attention - the allure of screens, peer absorption, career goals. They are latter-day Rip Van Winkles, sleeping through the movements of culture and events of history, preferring the company of peers to great books and powerful ideas and momentous happenings. From their ranks will emerge few minds knowledgeable and interested enough to study, explain, and dispute the place and meaning of our nation. Adolescence is always going to be more or less anti-intellectual, of course, and learning has ever struggled against immaturity, but the battle has never proven so uphill. Youth culture and youth society, fabulously autonomized by digital technology, swamp the intellectual pockets holding on against waves of popular culture and teen mores, and the Boomer mentors have lowered the bulwarks to surmountable heights. Among the Millennials, intellectual life can't compete with social life, and if social life has no intellectual content, traditions wither and die. Books can't hold their own with screen images, and without help, high art always loses to low amusements.
The ramifications for the united States are grave. We need a steady stream of rising men and women to replenish the institutions, to become strong military leaders and wise political leaders, dedicated journalists and demanding teachers, judges and muckrakers, scholars and critics and artists. .......
Teachers try to impart knowledge, but students today remember only that which suits their careers or advantages their social lives. For the preparation of powerful officials, wise intellectuals, and responsible citizens, formal schooling and workplace training are not enough. Social life and leisure time play essential roles in the maturing process, and if the knowledge principle disappears, if books, artworks, historical facts, and civic debates - in a word, an intellectual forensic - vacate the scene, then the knowledge young people acquire later on never penetrates to their hearts.
Adults everywhere need to align against youth ignorance and apathy, and not fear the "old fogey" tag and recoil from the smirks of the young.
In just a couple of months, thousands of high school graduates are going to be hitting the streets. The majority of them will have no marketable skills what so ever. Many of them will go off to college and many of these will be back home within a year or so because they lacked the educational foundation, the basic study skills or just drank too much beer. Many will want to go to college but won't have the money. Easy to understand in todays economy. Many will try to enter the job market but will find out that even fast food is a tough nut to crack right now.
The lucky ones will be the ones with skills. The people who can make and do things. Will there be jobs for all of them? No, but instead of sitting on the damn couch texting or Twittering their life away, people that make things stay busy. They will pursue their hobbies or will be out tinkering on something. These are the people who will enroll in a night school program to learn how to run a lathe. They'll be pounding nails, fishing, camping - just keeping busy learning new things and networking with people who can help them get somewhere in this world once the job market opens up as opposed to networking with some knucklehead who sleeps 'til noon because he not only doesn't have a job but he has absolutely no prospects, either.
I realize it's rather ironic that I bring this information to you via computer when the computer and associated technologies seem to be at the root of the problem. But I do have an education, visit museums and have marketable skills. I'm also waiting for the drywall compound to dry so I can put on a second coat. Join me in the fight against youth ignorance, won't you?