Monday, 3 March 2014

Corruption in The Social Networks

I have mentioned several times before that there is a generation or two, (Gen Xers and Millennials), who have never studied logic or debate in high school. This means the members of these groups cannot argue points logically.

My generation, the last which was taught in the classical mode, learned how to objectify arguments and do research to shore up those positions. We also learned real literary criticism and not merely "reader response" nonsense which came after us.

Education in both Great Britain and America turned from the true classical curriculum of Latin, Logic, Ethics, Aristotelian Composition and so on to a mishmash of either utilitarian courses, or courses which encouraged the students to have opinions without any frame of reference.

The result of this huge change in education from the classical to either Deweyite or Bismarckian technological training, as opposed to the teaching of the Liberal Arts, has left these two generations without the ability to stand back and argue points objectively.

I have two friends who have left social networking because, like me, they know how to argue, and have literally given up on those younger who are steeped both in their own opinions or in Catholic "informed dissent". In any case, one can no longer sustain arguments with many on line because the arguments are not objective.

Having taught Logic and Debate, as well as other classical courses, I would be giving Fs and Ds to a majority of those on twitter or in commentary boxes for either getting off subject, resorting to the fallacies, especially ad hominem and ad populum, and resorting to opinions rather than either facts or the Teaching Magisterium of the Church.

Really, I am at a juncture as to whether to help those locked in subjectivism or just, as my two friends have done, bow out of the entire discussion concerning Church teaching.

Arguing from a small incidental situation, such as "I know someone..." is not using the classical modes of debate or argumentation.

Arguing against persons is obviously not only bad manners but not part of classical debate or argumentation.

I guess my question would be this. When does one give up trying to teach critical thinking, as well as manners? Classical debate involves good will, manners, respect for all sides of an argument.

Without respect, there is no common ground.

If one looks at social networking many years ago, one sees a different level of conversation. Many of us older ones have noticed this on famous blogs. In other words, the level of conversation is no longer intellectual or informed, but merely opinions from those who feel like giving opinions.

To me, social networking, which includes blogs and commenting, has been an excellent platform for disseminating the truth of the Catholic Church a la the New Evangelization, as well as a way to engage non-Catholics to think about converting. In other words, commenting and blogging have been, to me, part of Blessed John Paul II's call to use media for spreading the Gospel.

This cannot happen if people sink to throwing sticks and stones at one another. The other problem has been an increasing lack of moderation, as in moderating, blogs and comment boxes.

Where are the moderators to remind all of manners, good will, charity, and sticky to the argument at hand?

It is the duty of the older generations to pass on wisdom and knowledge to the younger ones. But, I am beginning to doubt both the openness as well as the real thirst for knowledge in some who only want to be heard, instead of learn and reflect. The thirst for knowledge is a sign of the saint, as is objectivity.

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