Old People Need to Stop Telling Us That The Internet Is Ruining the World
Baroness Susan Greenfield, a controversial neuroscientist, has an idea. It’s been hard to pin down exactly what that idea is, because rather than publishing a proper explanation of it, she’s spent the last few yearspromoting scare-stories about the wickedness of modern technology in the tabloid press. Greenfield, a 65-year-old who claims never to have visited Facebook—she loathes it that much—usually spends her days writing articles for the Daily Mail. In them, she routinely accuses technology of turning the latest generation of teens and 20-somethings into feeble mouth-breathers who’d sacrifice their physical, mental, and sexual health for a hearty broadband connection.
It’s the sort of baseless, hysterical rhetoric you’re probably used to by now: “Facebook and Twitter are creating a vain generation of self-obsessed people with a child-like need for feedback,” “social websites harm people’s brains,” that kinda stuff. Inevitably, this leads, among other things, to “the fragmentation of our culture.”
However, as people like Dr. Ben Goldacre and Professor Dorothy Bishop have pointed out on numerous occasions, her statements are pretty vague on detail and tend not to be backed up by any direct scientific evidence. In 2010, Goldacre issued an exasperated plea to the Baroness: “You have a responsibility to your peers and most importantly the public to present your theory clearly and formally in an academic journal.”