Bad Lessons

Everyday I find something that makes me believe that the world is getting stupider. I don’t mean in the fun Homer Simpson antics way, I mean people just seeming brainless in many ways.

The key thing is what we learn from, who we put on a pedestal as an example to follow. Modern times are dominated by do-nothing celebrities like the Kardashians or Love Island contestants who gain fame presumably because someone put them on TV and others found them likeable. Young people see this sort of thing and decide to copy it. It’s a visual and audio influence on correct behaviour based on what we’re exposed to.

When I went to school I had some bad teachers, usually people that preferred shouting to dealing with problems. I also had some good teachers who’d skip around classrooms making jokes or showing a genuine interest in what they were teaching. Out of school I learned from Stephen Fry’s QI, books like Lord Of The Rings and The Discworld along with other more fact based books. I did everything I could to learn from sources that demonstrated factual knowledge. A lot of what I know is useless, some of it helps me to understand the world, much of it I’ve forgotten, and I can see the problems before I see the good in the world.

What’s this all for then? The image below is a screenshot of Instagram comments on a post trying to teach good writing. I’ve blotted out names and profile pictures.

The post was about how to do “good” writing. The creator of the post was saying that you should basically just use short, snappy, attention grabbing sentences. The first comment is from someone claiming to be Portuguese who clearly understands the idea that good writing should be varied with adjectives and adverbs that add structure and detail to a piece. The creator replies in a dismissive way that makes English seem like a stupid language full of “fluff” or “empty” words that aren’t useful. I then put in my say to help the foreign commenter to hopefully make things clearer.

What’s really happening in these comments is that the post creator has been unclear. What they’re teaching is good attention grabbing, yet they mistake that for good writing. It’s a bad lesson to learn from social media as communication is getting worse, attention spans are getting worse as is brain function. I’m certain that the creator had only good intentions and that on a service like Instagram this “good” way of writing by removing “fluff” probably works, however so many people use social media as a place to gain information like language that this way of thinking can be dangerous.

Instagram is also full of get rich quick instructions that don’t really tell you anything, cooking videos that aren’t as quick and healthy as they seem and much more. Generally speaking, for someone that wants to learn it’s a really bad place to go. It’s why I only follow intentionally stupid and visual stuff to do with my hobbies or my friends as I really don’t trust what’s on Instagram.

I was recently informed that children now text purely using emojis which to me is a step backwards given the number of beautifully developed languages in the world. I could do with learning emojis as if used well it could become a universal language for all, but youngsters abandoning real words is a worrying thought.

I would always wish for people to be able to learn, I would encourage the growth of knowledge but always be wary of the source of information. Make sure you understand what the teacher wishes to show you before you learn the lesson.

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