I just read this article, "Solitude and Leadership," by William Deresiewicz. He claims that America lacks leaders, defining leaders as people who can think for themselves. Deresiewics places part of the blame on social media: "Thinking for yourself means finding yourself, finding your own reality. Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else."
He also claims that not only does social media keep us from thinking for ourselves, but thinking at all: "Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube."
This raises some interesting questions for our class: Is social media a key to thinking, or a distraction from it? So far in this class, has social media been a distraction or a help in your research? Have you spent more time learning how to use Diigo or setting up a blog than thinking about your topic?