March 29, 2020
The internet made us weird – just not in the right way | Douglas Rushkoff

The internet made us weird – just not in the right way | Douglas Rushkoff


I feel like my undergraduate students, who
are 18 to 22 years old, are maybe a bit more cynical about social media and their smartphones
and all than we would have expected. I mean, they’re cynical about everything,
on a certain level. But I think that they’re less likely to get
hooked into some crazy idea and start following some conspiracy about George Soros or gun
ownership or whatever it is– you know, those kinds of tunnels– than most adults. And partly, it’s because they’re CUNY students,
and they don’t have time. They’re working. They’re stuck, and that forces them to be
grounded, on a certain level. That said, this is the way they date, you
know? They’re swiping left and right on faces and
all. And they’re definitely products of the digital
media environment in the way that they have real yes or no, thumbs up/thumbs down, like
or not like relationships to things. I feel like that in-between place is really
hard for them to inhabit. And that’s the place that I grew up living
for, you know? That strange place of, like, what does David
Lynch mean in this scene? What the heck is going on here? I live for that. I live for that weird uncertainty, to be in
an optical illusion and where am I. That’s not a place that I see them striving
for, yearning for. You know, I see there’s such a rush. There’s such a time compression that their
main experience of media– which seems to be digitally induced– is how long do I have
to look at this before I can dismiss it. How do I wipe it away? So you don’t read a magazine to get into the
magazine. You read a magazine, OK, I don’t need that. I don’t need that, don’t need that, done. And then you can move on to the next thing. There isn’t that sense of reveling. The digital future I imagined look more like
Rick Linkletter’s movie Slacker, where because I have the internet, I could get really into
William Burroughs and Brion Gysin and Genesis P-Orridge and find weird culty groups and
get more slack, not less slack. Because I was able to type my paper on a Commodore
64 instead of sitting there on my Smith Corona, I have more time to veg out or to get stoned
or to be weird. And it didn’t happen like that. We didn’t get the cognitive surplus that Clay
Shirky told us about. Instead, they just filled it with more and
more and more and more stuff so that there’s a kind of a franticness and a harriedness
that I don’t remember us having at 18 to 22.

84 thoughts on “The internet made us weird – just not in the right way | Douglas Rushkoff

  1. Yeah no it didnt. It gave us an outlet to express our eccentricities with anonymity. They always existed.

    What changed humanity for the worse in the modern era is adopting already proven to be failure social systems like Democracy and then heaping idiotically short sighted economic practices on top of it like Capitalism.

  2. If you make phones and the apps on them in the same way you would make a slot machine you can see how people became this way.

    Plus the dislike, like culture is probably only there because of the insulation public figures and celebrities want from real people as never to be questioned by someone not being paid to believe what they say. Who gives a damn what people who are living in these situations think. Here some person who made a name for themselves in the 90s to tell you how the young people are doing it wrong…..

  3. There are plenty of young people now who revel in the intellectual glories of the internet. And there were plenty of people of Rushkoff's generation who couldn't be bothered reading much more than the TV guide.
    Check the demographic statistics on an in-depth 2 hour You Tube discussion on any topic and you'll find young people are watching them. Old media such as TV, on the other hand, was an entirely rushed affair (and still is) so the claim that the internet made us impatient to skip to the next thing is insultingly simplistic, especially when that claim is being made in a 3 minute video. Watch a political panel on CNN attempt to resolve some critical question within 5 minutes and you'll see how impatient people are off-line.
    Rushkoff's notion is based on nothing more than the assumptions of a slightly disenchanted boomer. Why he expected the internet to magically make every youth an intellectual when books long ago failed to, I don't know.

  4. I… I… ehm, I feel like… ehm… this didn't really deserve to be… eh… called Big Think. Sorry to say so. But hey, I'll give you guys neither a thumbs down nor up, no no or yes, but will instead comment here. And yes, I also grew up with the C64, although I was a wee bit too young back then to write my paper on it.
    As a PS, I've been able to use digital media to my advantadge, especially regarding social contacts. One just has to be mindful who to interact with and on which platforms to do so, but I don't think that's really that different from so called "real life".

  5. We're well past the "advent of the internet" conversation, this is more to do with the speed and ease of access. Now, we not only have all of human knowledge in our hand but we can check, recheck, form a consensus, outsource, opensource, ponder, ruminate, sip tea, pack a bowl and still have time for life. This level of exposure drives cliches like a nail through the eye of oneself, forcing us to make the beaten path wider, longer, taller,…more interesting. So, if a young person is giving you that look, it's because you're moving too slow, they've seen and heard it all before (so we always think) and sometimes they're right. Know thy self.

  6. well, back then you studied a couple of years, get a degree and you're one of the rockstars with a degree, just start making money in a few months after that. Try to slack when you are competing now since highschool and before that, nowdays a degree means nothing not even a doctorate gives you any guaranties, and when you get a job now fight to keep it because you have to pay for a long time for your fancy degree. Well, now try to slack, and that's before you have children, then things get easier. Back then a married couple could afford a couple of kids with 1 salary and even own a place. I'm learning another programming language now, that may help me in the future and is hard to find time for it, let alone having an actual hobbie. Good luck if after 10 years of work you are actually debt free and starting paying for a home.

  7. Weird boomer rambles about how stupid millennials are boohoo. Have people’s attention spans gone down? Yes. Can people who want to be useful focus properly with more resources now? Yes to that too. The internet has just amplified all forms of input into the brain, entertainment, education whatever else, it’s the end user who decides how they want to use it still.

  8. Im sorry, but the kind of stuff you get yourself to say, is based on the same stuff your parents judged you for.

  9. That was really interesting. I have worked with that generation a lot of managing and coaching. This certainly sounds familiar.

  10. And eventually it manifests into severe anxiety problems, which is quite easily measurable in certain age groups(those exposed to the internet for most/all their lives).

  11. Interesting. I sort of see what is described in my students. They are not a represent sample though. They are all honors and scholarship students, in honors geology That's a far cry from the average kind of student you get in media and film. I absolutely respect his anecdotal observations. He is a recognized expert in what he is talking about. I am not. I barely use my phone for more than the phone feature. But then I have to wonder how representative his classes are of the student body. his classes are. I haven to wonder how representative his classes are of their age cohort at large.

    Among my students, I don't see this binary approach to "life" that he does. Up/down, black/white, swipe left/right, with no ambiguity or continuum, the perspective allows for fast response, but misses subtlety and richness . Maybe i'm missing something. But the prerequisites for physics and statistics applied to the real world, helps them think about systems and process, trends and relationships. Quadratic equations, put to real use, should show them the world is not always black and white, or what they assume. Even a simple rock may not be what it seems. But a "hurry up what's next" approach to life will miss that and the rich history behind what is held in the hand. That is just for a rock. Imagine something really complex like love. Films are a wonderful vehicle for examining that if you savor the complex moment.

  12. I know how they feel. I've always been a slow reader, so I never (and I mean never) enjoyed reading assignments in school. There was too much, and all I could do was get through as much as I could, which wasn't all of it. It wasn't until I was no longer a student that I started to enjoy reading. We need time to vegetate.

  13. Wow, I've came across Douglas last night on the Under the Skin podcast and it was very chill to listen to him talk to Russell Brand. Nice coincidence to find him here too.

  14. The internet fkd 90% of relationships and marriages, and made 90% of people unsatisfied with what they have with the constant false hope that “you can have anything you want”. It ruined social skills, respect, ect. The only good thing about it is communication for useful purposes and research (with a big grain of salt) and learning. There internet is used as a weapon against people’s mentality in many ways, constantly being manipulated into ideas and merchandise ect. At the end of the day, the cons outweigh the benefits.

  15. First thing he did was compare being a conspiracy theorist to caring about gun rights… first thing he did was get political and expose his leftist bias. He dismissed gun rights being under attack as a conspiracy theory and then complained that the younger generation is too quick to dismiss

  16. The "in-between place" are the 1784 people who have not voted on this video (as of the time I am viewing it) versus the 191 positive and 32 negative. It's not hard to inhabit. Most people do…

  17. A lot depends on what generation you are talking about when discussing how people have adapted to the information age. Gen X, Millennials, or Gen Z all vary quite a bit. I talk about these 3 as they are the ones who grew up with the information age.

    ** disclaimer, yes this is heavily generalizing, there are plenty of exceptions, not everyone fits in generation boxes, etc…**

    Gen X tends to remember before the internet so have a much more unique perspective of the information age and it's place while still embracing it they can also do without it. There is also some resistance to some tech advances in Gen X seeing them in a longer term as a negative rather than the immediate short term benefit. One might call it an older generation being able to look further ahead to see where the tech is going due to seeing more of the development in the early days to now.

    Millennials tend to have no memory of before and little interest in the before (not counting the ironic hipster thing) so dived head first and somewhat over saturating themselves in it. This is where you get a lot of the over dependence in the internet from. Sadly a lot of millennials could be categorized as addicted to tech. It became so all important to some that they suffer physical withdraw symptoms (no joke, there are studies showing this) if it is taken away for any length of time. Millennials are also the generation that tends to tie themselves to their online social media persona the most. Having a lot of their life in the cyber sphere rather than the real world. Putting more importance on how their online persona is perceived than their real life person is.

    Gen Z tends to be more balanced than millennials but not quite to the level of Gen X where there is some complete rejections. Gen Z tends to moderate their tech time with real world time a lot better than millennials, actually wanting face to face interactions over filtered through tech. This generation also tends to recognize a need to unplug more often, to step out in the real world. So while tech smart they have started to understand when and where to use it. Started to develop social etiquette in regards to the tech. They are still heavily dependent upon it, but it is less controlling of their lives than for millennials. Gen Z is starting to learn to control it.

  18. Conspiracies about George Soros or gun ownership? Is this guy functionally retarded?

    George Soros talking about working for the Nazi's:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8Id0-Lsyr0

    Article from the BBC on George soros titled "The man who broke the bank of England"
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/229012.stm

    He's a Nazi aiding international monetary terrorist that openly opposes just about everything America stands for, and that's just what's public knowledge. Who needs a conspiracy?

    And… A conspiracy about gun ownership?… Please clarify, because that just sounds dumb as hell.

  19. The extra time we got only made us more anxious. We are creatures that want to create and all that free time probably made us feel like we weren't working hard enough to be rich and famous.

    I think modern schooling also plays a role with the fast input and output of students instead of teaching them on a more individual basis

  20. That's you. Live for the weird uncertainty. I'm 30 and I find the amount of information available to me overwhelming. So I dismiss the clutter, I dismiss the aged professor who has an opinion I don't care about. Then take my time going deep in to something I care about. It's not that I don't use the internet to find someone that one thing I care about me aim directly for that. I at least give a chance to all the trash info, like this video which did not give me anything, did not enrich my existence in any positive way and only made write an excessively long comment.

  21. I'm old enough to have experienced both the regular and the curve grading systems. The students you describe see everything in black and white and are totally clueless, endlessly unable to formulate thoughts, as you are displaying, because they were never taught to think, to see the nuances. They and the generation before them, the present and future leaders of our world, including myself from the curved grading system on… are all B students who actually failed. Thanks to the modern wizards of education we are all a bunch of fucking idiots who think that we're smart. This because no one can know what they do not know.

  22. I think the internet is just a tool. One can learn how to revel and take ones time to curate cultural and social uplifts instead of using the internet like the bustle and hurry of Times Square. It helps to develop mindfulness in one's 'real' life and apply this understanding and habits to the internet. Successful use of a tool reveals the learning and skill of the person wielding it. 🍻🔨📚

  23. Never underestimate the power of humans to ingest large amounts of pap. We stopped teaching critical thinking and it shows in every aspect of society.

  24. All the times the older generations were saying that the newer generations are weird and dommed, so relax and enjoy the ride. Peace.

  25. The comment section told me about myself, and enriched my existence more than anything the man above said.

  26. i can sorta see this sense of "how long do i have to look at this until i can dismiss it", this sense of urgency in myself too. now some might think what he's saying is really vague and makes no sense but isnt that because (i might be very wrong here) this issue is a very recent one and we dont understand it very well? doesnt the fact of dismissing what he said so quick actually reinforce his point?

  27. I cancelled my Discover magazine subscription back in 2010 because of the change to a lack of in-depth coverage that I was used to. All the articles became infographics instead of thoroughly investigated, well written text. It baffled me so I cancelled my subscription. I even wrote to the magazine saying why I was cancelling my subscription.

    It’s strange that it’s like that now, everywhere. It’s all about immediacy and ease.

  28. Remember kids: books will cause people to be stupid because instead of memorizing ideas we can simply write them down thus making us worse at retaining info.
    #boycotttheprintingpress

  29. It has nothing to do with the internet. It is the Corporate Media peddling Outrage Culture. Social Media is just a modern form of Corporate exploitation. All social media combined makes up less than 1% of the actual internet. Douglas here doesn't possess the knowledge required to pass judgement on a future predicted out of an echo chamber of fantasy. And a cognitive surplus is meaningless to that super majority of humans who do not possess the mental tool kits required for maximizing their own inherent cognitive abilities. Why would they benefit from cognitive surplus at all?

    A full and healthy 72% of any given population of humans can barely navigate the level of input they receive just being alive. They have no use for the internet outside of being exploited by the Consumer Market dopamine loop for profit. That only leaves 28% of any given population with the cognitive skills required to efficiently apply a global connection to information toward any given task. And quite a large portion of that 28% is comfortably exploiting the 72% for, what you might call, second-hand profit.

    The leftovers at the fringe of Humanity are specialists, and Wealth Hoarding Psychopaths. The specialists are busy pursuing their obsession. The Wealth Hoarding Psychopaths are cleaning house. The internet has made it easier than ever for a large corporate or state entity to move in and subvert the population in 3rd world countries. Giving them direct and lossless (or near lossless) access to their natural resources. These same corporations are hard at work learning how to manipulate the most "inclusive" demographic possible, in an effort to directly manipulate a unified global consumer base.

    Once this happens, State Power becomes irrelevant, and the world revisits the Feudal Age. Corporate entities will become the Super Powers wielding not Weapons of Mass Destruction, but AI driven Methods of Mass Exploitation. And the human race will barrel headlong toward extinction at its own hands. As seems to be our inevitable fate.

  30. You blame it all on social media, but teach to the test where everything is a black and white answer with zero nuance is also part of the issue.

  31. I honestly did not expect this to happen when the Internet became mainstream. Before that, the Internet was more thing of nerds, and I thought it would remain a thing of nerds.

  32. What do you mean weird? Weird as in Lovecraftian? Weird as in "not normal" – whatever "normal" means? I suspect you haven't really considered your terms carefully.

    And their are a lot more "weird" people out there than you think, people of differing interests that normies like you label "weird". Millions of them. You only know what you've personally seen. I personally have seen little tiny ten minute YouTube science fiction (science fiction is labelled "weird" by the normies) shorts that are better stories than a lot of big budget science fiction. Not a lot – 99% of the shorts are garbage. But those few… They were all made by "weird" little people, working out those weird little ideas with no money, but a number of these "weird" little projects are gems. And there are THOUSANDS of them out there.

    Or you could go to Soundcloud and hear what kind of music electronic musicians are making.

    Normies are really the weird ones. They have nothing to contribute.

  33. Modern technology and methods make it easier for information and stimuli to arrive much more quickly than in the past. There's so much more to do and experience nowadays compared to past generations, allowing it to make more sense to finish what you have on your plate and move onto the next than dawdling all your time away on current affairs. It has it's positives and negatives, but it's not because of "Conblasted cell ferns and interwebz."

  34. At around a minute. Your college students are a small demographic. That does not extrapolate to the rest of the population.

  35. At 1:30. Bifurcation logical fallacy is present in the majority of the population no matter what demographic. it's not a product of social media or smartphone technology as much as it is an underlined core of our thought modeling that's been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. It's the path of least resistance. It's fight or flight. It's night and day. It's good and evil. It's Heaven and Hell. Purity and sin.

    This logically flawed salt modeling is being emulated all over the world and is learned at a very young age. It's here before we are born.

    Religion perpetuated it. Religion built off of what was already a biological and or neurological tendency.

  36. At 2:30. we are in an oversaturated Market of information and this has compounded Hasty judgment logical fallacy. There just isn't enough time to process hardly anything and so everyone appears mentally lazy because but cannot a lot that much time to judging anything and therefore their judgment is absolute horseshit. The oversaturated market for attention keeps people ignorance because of these factors.

    Yet again, big stink, you think it's Collegiate people that are the expert in this but really it's the dark web intellectuals that live in it. It's people like me.

  37. Near the end, the demands of the modern world are absolutely ridiculous. Everyone is overworked or feels pressured to do something.

    We should have a surplus of time but it is status quo driven opinion that we are supposed to work all the fucking time or become somebody when the reality is quite the opposite.

    Also, when people have time to do what they please, they will pleasure seek and eventually everything that they are getting pleasure from, they will be desensitized to.

    At that point they will become something more out of sheer boredom. I know from experience.

    (We can free up a lot of our time but we don't because slavery is what we've evolved to do. Take the path of least resistance. Usurp other forms of biology in order to save calories. the more time we have the spare, the more calories we have to spare, the more we put that towards figuring out how to get more calories and that equates to enslaving the majority in one form or another. That's where all of our time is going. Poof)

    The logician magician strikes again. Abracadabra, hocus pocus, poke-us fuck-us.

  38. without seeming to realize it, he's describing the ultimate consequence of a long-developing consumerist society mindset, the highest value is in how quickly one can consume and dismiss anything in order to move on to the next target/dismissal – I would suspect this has accelerated with the internet and has had a very wide-impact including why so much music sucks nowadays

  39. Reminded of road traffic's concept of "induced demand" by 3:25's "didn't get cognitive surplus… Just filled and filled it…"

  40. I read one of Rushkovs books a while ago, and I was very interested by his ideas. However as some other people have said in the comments, a 3 min video isn't enough to reflect on anything too deeply. Yet we must participate in the very system we don't like. Taking from another commentary, I feel our generation's pressure to rush through everything is quite justified in the entire system we live in (eg, you should get as many diplomas as fast as you can) not just by the type of media we consume. Anyways, I'm not gonna hate on him, because I know he knows his generation fucked up as much as we do. The man is just worried about the future

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