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.
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.
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.
Now, 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.