Bad is better but still bad

January 28, 2006
In Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, Steven Johnson makes an interesting argument. It is easy to see why it could be popular as it provides a ready excuse to indulge in things we know are really not good for us. He puts forward a reasonably convincing case that our most mindless activities have become more complex and cognitively engaging, but forgets this is time not spent on other kinds of fun, relaxing and enjoyable activities.

A video game can have a small positive influence on a child but not in the complex and multifaceted way that playing a social sport like baseball or basketball can. Watching ‘reality TV’ can train people about social behavior but not in the far more meaningful way that merely having a conversation with a real person can. Listening to pop music cannot engage a person the same way as singing or playing an instrument. The list goes on and on.

The lowest common denominator may, as Johnson argues, be higher—but that really should not be what we aspire to.


~ by severalfourmany on January 28, 2006.

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