Open Question

Jeff muses out loud that technology may be deteriorating humanity.

Margarita has a knee jerk negative reaction to his thinking out loud and decries the unilateral luddite mindset which would see us all stuck back before fire & the wheel.

Margarita’s instantaneous and outsized rage doesn’t exactly disprove Jeff’s point, nor does she go on to support her inpatient scoffing, but Jeff actually wants to continue this discussion and so he graciously declines to mention either of these facts. Instead he asks, “Hear me out?”

Margarita gives a terse nod and sips her latte. Her body language is all jaguar skepticism, coiled and ready to pounce.

Jeff: I  was thinking about education.

Margarita: What does that have to–

Jeff: You said you would hear me out. Thank you. I was thinking about education. And how the one thing we really need to ingrain in humans is the hardest thing to convey and we’re completely failing to do it. Education would probably be more successful if our aim was to help each ‘student’ identify in themselves the feeling of making the connections that constitute learning; and the confident sensation of knowledge. If every ‘student’ learned these feelings in themselves they would be able to get back to them, and they would be able to identify when or if they were learning in any context.

Learning would be a freedom. ‘Students’ could all be seekers and find their education anywhere. More learning would be seen as valid, because having identified the feelings of learning and knowledge within themselves ‘evaluators’ could have more empathy to learners of different types. Education would be more egalitarian, and perhaps more people would choose to become ‘educated’ because the pain, embarrassment, and hierarchy were stripped away.

Margarita: And everybody gets a puppy that never grows up and doesn’t shit or eat your stuff. And endless ice cream with rainbows and leprechauns and prancing unicorns. This has nothing to do with technology. What the hell are you talking about you Bodhisattva gargling, socialist slag.

Jeff: Yes, well. Follow if you will. Learning is a kind of empathy. When you know something you are empathic with the concept. That is how you trust that you know it. It’s a sense. Empathy, though not executed frequently enough, is in my mind the beating heart of humanity.

Technology is devaluing knowledge. The computers in our hands are faster, and come with prettier pictures than the computers in our bodies. You can look anything up. Anyone can have information almost instantaneously, and most times that can pass for knowledge so learning and knowledge are being devalued. If learning and knowledge are empathy, and empathy is humanity. If we devalue learning and knowledge – which was on the wrong side of the slippery slope already- we are devaluing humanity. Q. E. D.

Margarita: Wait. What does that mean? QED?

Jeff: I don’t remember. Can you look it up?



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