Posts Tagged Twitter
In one of its recent iPad commercials, Apple tried to show consumers all the wonderful things they could do with Steve Jobs’ little black tablet. From reading classic books to learning a new language, the iPad looks like the key to enlightenment. But is that really what iPad users do with their devices?
You probably have an Internet-connected electronic device at home. What do you use it for? Do you go on Facebook a lot? Do you watch other people make fools of themselves on Youtube? Do you read random blogs written by curmudgeon-y writers?
The Internet brought the world to our fingertips, and devices like the iPad and iPhone make that interface even easier. However, traditional, pre-Internet, goals of learning can’t beat distractions that were designed for the Internet.
There is considerable debate about whether it is better to read a physical book or a digital one, but you can only play Angry Birds on a screen. In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr described how the Internet encourages the brain to skim through materials instead of examining them closely. That makes it very hard to learn a new language, but very easy to scan the latest Tweets.
If Apple’s own commercials are the benchmark, the iPad may not be living up to its potential. Or maybe Apple needs to reassess. Its device is the perfect platform for all the Internet frivolity we know and love. That is its true function, although that may not be the best ad material.
Congressman Anthony Weiner has announced that he plans to resign, and hopefully that means we will not have to look at his genitalia anymore. That might be why so many people, including President Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, have called for Weiner’s resignation. That would be more reasonable than what they have actually been saying.
Weiner’s actions are reprehensible and completely devastating on a personal level. However, given the immoral and perverted things our public officials have been caught doing, it should barely register as a political issue. When the head of the IMF and the governor of California are attacking women and getting them pregnant, who cares about sexting?
When people hear about one of their leaders acting immorally, their natural response is to cry for blood. They feel their trust has been betrayed and are justifiably angry. Americans have a long history of turning random scandals into major news stories. In his Autobiography, Mark Twain describes the “Morris Incident,” in which a Mrs. Morris waited outside President Theodore Roosevelt’s office until she was dragged out of the White House kicking and screaming. This “incident,” Twain claims, overshadowed international news such as the Decembrist Revolt in Russia and conflicts between France and Germany that would eventually lead to World War 1.
This mob mentality is what the Founding Fathers feared. Popular fascination over a sensational yet inconsequential event can be very harmful to a democratic republic. In this case, government was brought to a standstill because one member of congress couldn’t keep it in his pants. People complain that the government is not getting enough done, but how can they expect it to do anything when Congress and the media are paralyzed by a perverse fascination with sex scandals?
It’s not like there is nothing happening, either. The revolution in Syria is heating up, al Qaeda is reestablishing itself in Yemen, and the economy is still a wreck. Our government is hamstrung by partisan politics and special interests, but some of the responsibility for its lethargy rests on the citizens. If enough people were as committed to job creation as they are to finding out the details of Weiner’s escapades, we would have a solution sooner.
Sometimes, knee-jerk outrage is the easiest response to the actions of members of Congress. However, that reaction needs to be put in perspective. As the puppets of Avenue Q say, “the Internet is for porn.” Our society is highly sexualized and Weiner’s actions may be a side-effect of that. Instead of crucifying every official that does not live up to our high (but rarely maintained) moral standards, Americans should weigh the effect their outrage has on the issues that really matter, and perhaps stop Twittering.