Despite protestations from my yellowing birth certificate, I am no fuddy-duddy. I don’t talk about “these kids today” or complain about TwitFace.
But it is difficult to ignore the evidence that all the new doodads, gizmos and anti-social media have created ways of doing business that have made the world safe for stupidity and rudeness, and have created The Dumbest Generation.
Truly, I adore my College of Charleston students, but they are communication majors who literally don’t know what news is, what it should look or sound like, how it’s made or how it’s different from advertising.
I won’t regale you with the mortifying details. I have other mortifying details to regale you with! The details about the stupidity and rudeness that I mentioned previously.
Behold, the burgeoning number of people who:
- Refuse to communicate via certain methods and media – Some people will text but not talk. Some won’t listen to voice mail. Some only email; some never respond to emails. It’s like you need a database to keep track of how to communicate with friends and business associates. More communication options have made communication – worse!
- Ignore you as a method of communication – This one is the worst and it is spreading like kudzu. For an increasing number of people, including CEOs, rudeness is a communication tool. You could be carrying on a business relationship, but if you ask them a question that they don’t want to answer, they will ignore you, no matter how many times you leave emails and voice mails. After three weeks, you are expected to conclude that they’re not interested, even if they don’t exactly know what they’re not interested in.
- Maintain asynchronous communication – You know those people who will never respond to your outreach if you need them, only if they need you? These people don’t answer their phones, so you can only communicate when they want to. They feel the need to put you in the position of supplicant all the time. It’s not the basis for friendship.
- Use social media to speak, not listen – A growing number of people ask you to support their cause, patronize their employer, etc., but never reciprocate, or even read your posts.
- Can’t understand why the rest of the world matters – They can recount their friends’ episodes of belly button lint, but couldn’t identify New Zealand on a map if you spotted them Australia. They literally don’t know what is going on in our community, across the nation or around the world – unless Saturday Night Live parodied it. Andy they vote. God help us.
- Consider themselves informed because they read a Tweet – Americans have never been particularly well-prepared voting citizens, but now “informed” people only go headline deep or live in a political echo chamber. The paradox of the information age – and the endless presidential election – is that the more information available, the less informed we are.
When you add all of this up, Americans are becoming willfully ignorant jerks. Was that the purpose of the Information Age? Maybe you can tell me…when you return my call from three weeks ago.