Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

We still hear a great deal of reference to learning in our society, but when it comes to the actuality of method a lot has changed.

It was a given for years and years that much of our ongoing life learning (besides personal experience) came from books, (or newspapers with impartial content). It was so obvious no one really thought about it. We learned good reading, studying and researching habits from our parents and teachers. We had good, solid dictionaries and encyclopedias for general reference. Usually at least a small personal library and beyond that the local public library and for serious research, access to the state or local college library.

It was not surprising most people were knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.

This was, of course before the tech revolution of the last 30 years. The tech revolution came into our lives like a thief in the night and with pretty much the same intention. The thievery was enacted very effectively.

We have been robbed of our pleasure in learning from books, our individuality in our personal learning and growing process, as well as our ability to make decisions based on that unique personal knowledge that was such a powerful feature of our lives.

Now we look down at the phone or over at the computer screen. For relaxation, instead of reading a book, we watch the much larger television screen.

From all those vantage points the voices speak to us. A common statement made all day long is “Here is what you need to know…” most everything we “need to know” is prompted either by a political agenda or a corporate, money-making agenda. People we are not supposed to like are referred to as people who have “baseless” arguments in their favor. The voice does not explain why they are baseless. It only speaks as an omnipotent force we must obey.

We are told medical products are good for us and listen to beautiful music and watch outdoor scenes of waterfalls and sunrises while in the background in a low voice the possible side effects of such potions are read off. “Heart failure, instant death syndrome, difficulty breathing,” etc. etc.

Sometimes a “news” program will play for a bit and we will be told about, for example, an old Amish man who was put in prison for selling a healthy salve because he said it was healthy on the container. (We should have realized by this time that unless the small print on a product is filled with horrific side effects it’s not worth buying!)

Likewise the “side effects” of the tech products we use are equally horrific when we use a magnifying glass and read them. They tell us that by using the product we have automatically agreed that our life is an open book and the companies involved have henceforward free use of all our personal information to be harvested and sold as they please.

When a large social tech company admitted that they had, without the customers knowledge, manipulated them in a Pavlov dog sort of experiment to see how gullible they might be to purposeful leading and false information slanting, the company spokesman felt no apology should actually have been necessary as it was all covered in the terms of service they had agreed to.

This is a big subject but in summation, I refer back to my opening on the subject of books and learning. Now the majority of reading that goes on is simply the contents of the internet news. (Slanted information, ads made to resemble news, and directions on how we should act and live, from unknown sources.) That’s it. Ray Bradbury once said “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture, just get people to stop reading them,.”

I first thought of the word “Deprogramming” as a title for this but decided it sounded too much like a tech term so changed it to “unlearning.” There is a lot we have to unlearn if we are to reclaim our individuality and focus. And there’s no time like the present.

Appreciate comments.