Dumbing down a baby boomer’s world

One of BoomerCafé’s original contributors has sent us a rant. And we have to say, we agree. As Larry Lefkowitz writes from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the world is dumbing down … and people in the media are the targets.

Each day as I listen to the news, I find myself automatically filtering what I hear. This is learned behavior due to the sensationalizing of everything from a lost dog to the weather. The new news paradigm is to hook you with coming attractions of major importance and then present them in a dire fashion.

TVnews_parody_2

A parody of television news.

To combat this, I have learned to ignore broadcast news. Instead, I do the unthinkable: I read the news. It is not so old-fashioned an idea. I can do it on my phone, tablet, PC, and laptop. There, I need only filter the headlines, which are written by semi-literate Neanderthals who think themselves future talking heads. Not to slander Neanderthals.

Larry Lefkowitz

Larry Lefkowitz

Among this aural and digital punishment is a loss of language that I find troublesome, to say the least. It extends from everything to simple instructions, to commercials, to all print media. I cannot even read a book any more without finding typographical, punctuation, and grammar errors. Granted, I am a professional editor, but aren’t all these media scrutinized by professional editors as well?

In recent months, I have become addicted to watching old movies on television, usually found on networks like TCM, POP, and Cinemoi. Made from the 1930s through the early ‘60s, these movies relied more on dialog and story than visual aids and shock glorification.

I am struck by the sheer amount of dialog, necessitating diction and eloquence of the actors and a good memory to boot. The skills are also required of the directors to help the actor emote through all those words, which are of a considerably higher level than current stories because they are used to describe so much more.

stack_of_booksNow, I like computer-generated imagery and some good old destruction of inanimate objects, but I love our language and love to see and hear it used properly. Listening to the radio, I wince in my car every time I hear someone say they “Shouldn’t have did that,” or “Let me ax you a question.” I have heard lawyers, obviously highly-educated, misuse words and speak in incorrect tenses. It astonishes me.

Taken to extreme, I fear that the general dumbing down of the world at large has helped to create a more savage era, disrespectful of human life and ignorant of the future beyond today. There is no heeding the lessons of the past because no one bothers to read of or from the past. If they did, they’d likely not understand it because history books are largely written in proper English.

The decline of literacy, then, portends the decline of civilization, I fear. Returning to the news and movies, if the producers cannot demand thinking of the viewers, the content suffers, and in the end, the recipients are the losers.

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10 Comments on "Dumbing down a baby boomer’s world"

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Rachel
Guest

AMEN. The news today is ridiculous! I love old movies for their many different levels of depth.

Mary Anne Hahn
Guest
Hi Larry. I am also a lover of words, of the English language, and I have my fair share of language and usage pet peeves as well (there’s a recent trend in music lyrics where artists sing “Ima” in place of “I am going to.” Dear Lord.) I agree that both written and spoken English have been seriously “dumbed down.” Where I disagree is the total write off of movies and television shows since the early 60s. There continues to be a great deal of excellent work being done in these areas, and in music as well. I think anyone… Read more »
H L Wegley
Guest

I hear you, Larry! And who decides what’s newsworthy these days? Whoever it is certainly has a low estimation of our intellect. And the reporters … do they all do their internships with the tabloids?

Eric Mondschein
Guest

Spot on! Thank you Larry.

Rhana Cassidy
Guest

Larry, amen! Unfortunately, the purveyors of dumbed-down content are giving us what we want, judging by what I see around me today. Science is under attack, Fox News is many Americans’ preferred news source, kids are encouraged to spell phonetically in some schools…sorry, now I’m ranting. My point is that when the public seems to demand dumb, the media oblige. Fighting it would drive them out of business.

Estella
Guest
I agree that news programming in the US is generally limited and shallow. It’s been heading south for decades. There are a lot of contributing factors, including (but not limited to) a change in America’s perception of education, politicians who serve the wealthy and powerful at the expense of their constituents, and the very thing that can help us improve our condition but is often misused: technology. Mark Twain said “out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation.” America used to have a profound respect for education. Public schools were established here so that all citizens would… Read more »
Larry Lefkowitz
Guest

Such a fine rant, Estella, and not restricted to the number of words we are in writing articles! Perhaps you would contribute to Boomercafe in a more formal fashion? (P.S. Estella and I are friends.)

Estella
Guest

🙂 I could do that, although I must say your article touched on a topic that has bothered me for a while.

I would have to remember that comments have less stringent length restrictions, though. To borrow from Ben Franklin: “I have already made this paper too long, for which I must crave pardon, not having now time to make it shorter.” Cheers.

Jan Marino
Guest

I agree and as the major buying power force in the nation boomers can make our voices heard with our “pocket books”…..remember those???lol

Emily
Guest

It’s great to be so much smarter than everyone else, isn’t it? By the way, you might want to read up on the (improper) use of the hyphen after words ending in “ly.”

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