Arnold Weinstein, a professor of comparative literature at Brown University, and the author, most recently, of “Morning, Noon and Night: Finding the Meaning of Life’s Stages,” writes in The New York Times that “our data-driven culture bears much of the blame for the decline of the humanities in higher education.”
But it’s not just in higher education where the humanities are declining because of the data-driven culture, or electronics-driven culture, or computer-driven culture, or Facebook-culture, and, in general, the soon-to-be-the-revived Beat culture, because we’re all tired of all the information, all the data, the games (video), the Facebooking, and the separating-ness of computers in general.
Humanities are declining in our minds and in our hearts, where the humanities once originated. The arts are atrophying in today’s society, particularly in Western countries where computers are ubiquitous. If it’s not a computer in someone’s hand, then it’s a smart phone, which can do more than a personal computer could do in the mid-1980s, which might sound to some like the stone age, but, it was only 30 years ago and we were carrying our data around on floppy disks and, soon, 3.5″ floppy disks.
If you find yourself spending a couple to a few hours a day on your personal computer, not including the time you spend on it doing just things for your job, and that you still have a hard time carving out time for your family, for your exercise, for reading, or enjoying things like art and nature, then it is happening to you.
There is so much we want to do. There are so many things we could do. This is proven everyday millions and millions and millions of times, when so many distractions keep so many people from doing what they really want to do.
The important thing to do is
- Decide what it is that you want to do with your life. Do you want to write a book? Paint paintings? Take photographs? Learn how to knit? Learn to use a sewing machine and make clothes. In this exercise you MUST choose one thing that is most important to you today.
- Do something toward that dream or goal or whatever it is before turning on Facebook or looking at cat videos on YouTube.
It’s easy. It sounds easy and it IS easy. You might have to ask yourself what you enjoy more, watching videos on YouTube, or visiting the Museum of Modern Art and looking at the expanse of Matisse’s Dance painting in person. If you’ve never seen it and can get to the museum, I urge you to go. It’s nothing like you see when you look at it on a computer.