Faking Cultural Literacy – ICYMI

A fun piece, unfortunately all too true, about how conversation and commentary, and the need to present oneself as well-informed, is exacerbated by the sheer volume of information. How many us have the time to deep dive anymore given this pressure? We scan more than read, and tweet more than reflect:

What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened. What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists — and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it. We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness.

NPR’s April Fools’ Day web story “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” went viral on Facebook, where pranksters in on the joke linked to the piece and others then argued that they do too read and indignantly shared the link with exhortations to “read the story!” without actually clicking on it themselves to see that the only content was the revelation that the whole thing was a prank: “We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this ‘story.’ ”

Faking Cultural Literacy – NYTimes.com.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

2 Responses to Faking Cultural Literacy – ICYMI

  1. Victoria says:

    Ah a piece that describes perfectly the angst I’ve had since I was a youngster. Growing up among people who fancied themselves intellectuals I worried about what I read, hid what I read that might make folks doubt my intellectual credentials and watched my words at every party/cocktail. Took me 30 years to kill the goddamn committee in my head that made judgements about me and and about the people and books I spent time with. Oh what a relief to turn away from all that for something a bit saner (and a lot more fulfilling) – a Beginner’s mind.

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