Forum 2

Recently Bill Keller, the executive editor at The New York Times, used his column in the paper to argue that there are indeed dangers to social media that we should be careful of. It all started with this tweet:

Keller lamented that he had recently allowed his 13-year daughter to join Facebook:

Last week my wife and I told our 13-year-old daughter she could join Facebook. Within a few hours she had accumulated 171 friends, and I felt a little as if I had passed my child a pipe of crystal meth.

More to the point Keller argued:

“…we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud. The upside is that this frees a lot of gray matter for important pursuits like FarmVille and “Real Housewives.” But my inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.”

Nick Bilton, a lead technology writer at the New York Times (note that Keller is Bilton’s boss) countered Keller’s argument suggesting:

Could Twitter make me stupid? Absolutely. If I only followed funny cats that speak with poor grammar, I’d be on my way to a vapid state of mind in no time. But I don’t. I follow dozens of news outlets and writers; I follow chefs, neuroscientists and the president of the United States; and of course, I follow Mr. Keller.

He goes on:

There is a fear by many, Mr. Keller included, that these devices will wipe out our ability to remember and force us to become dependent on the virtual world. Luckily for us humans, our brains do not work this way. Research shows that the human brain is capable of adapting to new technologies in less than a week, irrelevant of age or intellect.

Now to the class forum. Read their arguments (Keller here and Bilton here) and weigh in. Can Twitter make you stupid? What does this mean for our capacity to communicate? What are the implications for journalism?

To keep it simple this week, just add your comments in the comments section of this post.