During his commencement address at Virginia's Hampton University on Sunday, President Obama warned graduates of the "distraction" devices like the iPad can create, and the abundance of erroneous information online. "With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work," Obama said, "information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation." Because "some of the craziest claims" often proliferate on the internet, he added, Americans face increased "pressures" to decipher truth from fiction. Are Obama's injunctions against 21st Century technology valid? (Watch Obama's comments about the iPad)
What a geezer: For the first time, says Glynnis MacNicol in Mediaite, Obama sounds "old and out of touch." It's "one thing to bemoan or admonish" older constituents, who still struggle to grapple with the barrage of technology and disinformation that permeates society. But it's quite another "to lecture a bunch of 22-year-olds... who [can easily] weed out the nonsense from the truth." They've always had to.
"Obama: iPad and Xbox 'distraction' hard on democracy"
Don't dismiss Obama just yet: "Obama isn't swearing off technology," says Dan Nosowitz in Fast Company, "he's just reminding us to be careful what we listen to, read, and watch." Which makes sense, considering the glut of "garbage" disguised as news online. On the other hand, "while the democratizing effect of the internet opens the door for nutballs like Glenn Beck," it also allows us to quickly and easily debunk dishonest claims.
"Obama on 'iPods, iPads, Xboxes, and Playstations: 'Information becomes a diversion"
Tuning out certainly has its upsides: Obama's anti-tech stance is understandable, says Larry Digan in ZDNet. Politicians get uncomfortable "when there are too many information outlets to control and spin." But he's right about the need to manage "information overload": "If all we do is snack on information, when does... critical thinking happen?" I've noticed that most of my "real thoughts" happen "away from a device."
"Obama's information distraction riff: A real issue?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- Republicans love this new health care plan. Too bad it's basically a tax cut for the rich.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- 8 tricks to surviving the holidays without gaining weight or being grouchy
- 17 old proverbs we should use more often
- Don't blame Chuck Hagel: Obama's foreign policy has been a disaster from end to end
Subscribe to the Week