Don’t trust anyone under 30?

I find articles with titles like this difficult to digest. What if you are under 30?

And especially if the article is filled with banalities – partly put in the mouth of the “authority” of professor Mark Bauerlein – like:

The bad thing about [Facebook] is that it gives a venue to everybody with an opinion.

Teenagers, high school and college students […] are spending so much time engaged in digital electronic activities that they are losing the capacity to sit quietly in a room by themselves and read a book.

We’re about to turn our country over to a generation that doesn’t read much and doesn’t think much either.

Text messaging does not involve writing coherent, elegant paragraphs that involve sustained arguments and presentations of evidence. It’s just another way where kids teach each other bad habits.

The author is Richard Bernstein, a New York Times book critic and International Herald Tribune columnist. He was born in 1944 and he makes it show in this article (unfortunately, as there are many people of his age who are mentally a lot younger).

Sorry Bernstein, but you are behaving like an old man.

Why on earth is the International Herald Tribune publishing this crap?

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  1. I find it quite interesting that Richard Bernstein can make such a statement with such heart behind it. I disagree with Mr. Bernstein. I am a graphic designer, I love art, art history, culture, and especially reading. It is my job to communicate, and communicate effectively. Im 23 and believe it or not last night after work I read a book most of the evening….after I checked facebook.

  2. When the remnants of the Soviet Empire were struggling to become a society, I came to the practice of reading the IHT. I still look into the online version of the newspaper now and then, and impressions are good enough for me to be happy with reading without an urge to write myself. This letter became urgent however after January 14, when I saw the “Don’t trust anyone under 30” by Mr. Bernstein, undoubtedly a man of letters and observations.

    Mr. Bernstein told me about another man of letters, a Professor Bauerlein, specialist in English from Emory, and about this clever man’s book “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)”.

    As far as my impaired reading proficiency permits, I have learned Professor Bauerlein does not approve the way young people communicate nowadays. It seems no one approves it, but this is not the case. It looks very much like that Professor Bauerlein does not admit this variant of communication, either because this learned man is unable, due to some quite understandable reasons, to adapt to it, or because Professor Bauerlein, due to some sensible psychoanalytical reasons, cannot accept it as a contemporary reality of a talk.

    Denying reality is not in itself interesting and not even dangerous so much. Defying the way other people, no matter how young, talk in attempt to construct an existence of their own is much more commendable. It smells bad.

    Within the marvellous journalistic frame Mr. Bernstein has put him, Professor Bauerlein has not an ordinary look of a conservative schoolmaster, but appears to be a competent and gifted adept of a control over others’ privacy, a totalitarian vogue of the contemporary world. Look: some decades ago parents could stop the socializing of the teenagers by means of a simple order to their room; now they can’t. “The room is their command center. There is no private space.”

    The disaster Professor Bauerlein senses is not the destruction of privacy, as this could be easily misread. Professor Bauerlein, an educator, is anxious about this command centre that renders all the means of control over young man’s privacy obsolete and ineffective. This very fear of “leaving kids alone” is the real affective core of his book – provided, of course, that Professor Bauerlein is honest. He is, isn’t he? For if he is not, than what one sees is an attempt of gaining some extra money to cover the expenses of upbringing a teenager? University educators are severely underpaid, they are.

    I am absolutely sure Professor Bauerlein is perfectly mindful about what he says and writes, as well as Mr. Bernstein. Both gentlemen pay a great attention to wording, much more than I do. English is not my native language, and I am not a specialist. I am a counselling psychologist, and for twenty something years I am paying my professional attention to the way young people communicate their Present in pursuit of formulating their Future. It is from this stance that I could state their dumb, dull, ill-worded, scattered scribbles Professor Bauerlein, Mr. Bernstein, and all of us could see in their online posts, school essays and bad verses are perhaps the most important things in their real life. Educators are supposed to know and acknowledge the fact. When the next wrist-cut kid would face us with the problem, go look it in Professor Bauerlein’s book, for here it lies, stark naked: the mindful and well-written rejection.

    I am far from the closest advice of widening Professor Bauerlein’s scope; I would rather recommend narrowing the one. English language itself is a vast domain to dwell, there is hardly any reason to leave it for good, so here stays Professor Bauerlein, and abstains from demonstrating a prominent educator’s unwillingness and inability to understand and endure the complexities of the other’s evolving life and its cultural and psychological differences.

    This not being done – and the deeds of the sort are seldom done – the Professor Bauerlein’s brilliant book and Mr. Bernstein’s emotional presentation would be at their best but another opinion, and an opinionated one, “99 percent of the stuff that happens to you every day has absolutely no significance to anybody else”. This opinion, no matter in what number of copies, would matter no more than the opinion of an X-teen yo kid telling us something at the nearby site which, the more subjective and unreliable lies they are, the more they are to be trusted. In fact, the only difference one can tell between those text samples is that the first one is backed by some quite visible means of institutional support. “Language is a dialect backed by the Army”.

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