The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)

February 21, 2014
Author:
Mark Bauerlein
Publisher:
Tarcher (5/15/2008)

For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture of young people and the impact it has on their futures.

The dawn of the digital age once aroused our hopes: the Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and ultra-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their know-how and understanding of technology to form the vanguard of this new, hyper-informed era.

That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen.

The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their minds had the opposite effect.

According to recent reports from government agencies, foundations, survey firms, and scholarly institutions, most young people in the United States neither read literature (or fully know how), work reliably (just ask employers), visit cultural institutions (of any sort), nor vote (most can’t even understand a simple ballot). They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount foundations of American history, or name any of their local political representatives. What do they happen to excel at is — each other. They spend unbelievable amounts of time electronically passing stories, pictures, tunes, and texts back and forth, savoring the thrill of peer attention and dwelling in a world of puerile banter and coarse images.

The Not So Greatest Generation

Anyone who thinks this is mere intergenerational grousing, the time-worn tradition of an older generation wagging its finger at a younger one, should think again.

Drawing upon exhaustive research, detailed portraits, and historical and social analysis, The Dumbest Generation presents an uncompromisingly realistic study of the young American mind at this critical juncture. The book also lays out a compelling vision of how we might address its deficiencies.

To fail to do so may well mean sacrificing our future to the least curious and intellectual generation in national history.

Paperback, Kindle, MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio Unabridged, and  Audible Unabridged editions also available.