My new essay at The Awl
Highly educated Americans tell the world that young people are increasingly distracted or emotionally incompetent due to incessant pointer-clicking and unrelenting thumb-pressing. From the stuffed genre of airport-friendly socio-criticism, we’ve learned that networked technologies are making us lonely and small-minded. Apparently no one has ever sent Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, or Sherry Turkle, of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other, a tastefully brief Snapchat. In their best-selling sermons, “the Net” is the devil. Search engines, hyperlinks, and texts ensnare our intellect with the seductive fork tongue of reptilian temptation.
That Paul did not emerge from a mountain of seclusion like Muhammad or Zarathustra, that he did not return a walking Deepak Chopra of prophetic wisdom and Gandhian patience, is not so surprising. In fact, Paul’s failed experiment helps to refute the Internet fear mongering that has propelled the notoriety of the professional “thinking about the Internet” class.