Are We Out of Big Ideas?

Are We Out of Big Ideas? August 18, 2011

In Sunday’s NYTime, Neal Gabler surmised that we’re out of big ideas.  Surprise, surprise, he blames social media and mobile technology for the sad state of how dumb we are:

The collection itself is exhausting: what each of our friends is doing at that particular moment and then the next moment and the next one; who Jennifer Aniston is dating right now; which video is going viral on YouTube this hour; what Princess Letizia or Kate Middleton is wearing that day. In effect, we are living within the nimbus of an informational Gresham’s law in which trivial information pushes out significant information, but it is also an ideational Gresham’s law in which information, trivial or not, pushes out ideas.

We prefer knowing to thinking because knowing has more immediate value. It keeps us in the loop, keeps us connected to our friends and our cohort. Ideas are too airy, too impractical, too much work for too little reward. Few talk ideas. Everyone talks information, usually personal information. Where are you going? What are you doing? Whom are you seeing? These are today’s big questions.

Gabler is wrong.

As someone who is attempting to make an impact — and a living — as a public intellectual, (mostly) outside the walls of academia, I welcome our society’s changes.  This blog, for instance, is the platform for a pretty damn robust conversation around theological ideas.  And it’s open to anyone, not just those who are paying big bucks to a seminary.

And I’m all for that.

By the way, thanks for reading.

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