I have not read Steven Johnson’s book, but after watching tonight’s episode of 24 and seeing the complex storylines of today’s TV shows, movies and video games, I am starting to buy the premise. Today’s popular culture is so much more sophisticated than the one from 20 years ago. You have to be mentally engaged not to get lost in the shows, to try to guess the twist ending in the movies (e.g.; The Illusionist) or to solve the video games. After watching Lost or 24 or for that matter Sex and the City or Desperate Housewives, watching even 15 minutes of Dallas or the Dukes of Hazard is unbearably painful!
As I see today’s 8 year olds customize their cell phones, chat on IM, blog, create profiles on MySpace, play complex games and hold intelligent conversations, I am not worried about the next generation’s ability to find ways to challenge itself and reach its intellectual potential. I would prefer if they were also intellectually stimulated in school, but that will the topic of another post.
In the meantime, go indulge in your guilty pleasures. They are actually good for you!
Non sequitur: This season of 24 is a bit disappointing. I am not as hooked yet as I was the previous seasons. That said, the topics are eerily believable, and I was shocked (in a good way) but the ending of the fourth hour! Fingers crossed!