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English>>Life & Culture

Online amenities create utopia of idiots, curb serious thinking

By Wan Lixin  (Shanghai Daily)

09:25, November 12, 2012

Illustration by Zhou Tao(Shanghai Daily)

People's Daily created quite a stir last weekend among the general populace by using on one of its pages an online nonce word diaosi (meaning grassroots), which, at first glance, would strike the uninitiated as crudely obscene.

The last time the paper created a similar sensation was two years ago, when it took the revolutionary step of using, for the first time, a newfangled online coinage geili (to empower) in a report about provincial culture.

There are kudos for these moves, with some calling them proactive initiatives by the serious media to foster rapprochement with online users.

While the move can be variously interpreted, it does suggest the overwhelming momentum of online "culture."

That "culture" deserves to be highlighted because online reading is debasing our spiritual life.

As Wang Meng commented in his article "Browsing, reading and the quality of our spiritual life," (October 26, Wenhui Daily), easy access to information today is seriously compromising our ability to stay attentive, to say nothing of the ability of intense concentration that is the prerequisite for being engaged with any true work of ideas or art.

Wang was a renowned author and Minister of Culture from 1986 to 1989.

State of distraction

Information overload keeps browsers in a perpetual state of distraction, as they navigate the labyrinthine online world, their peace of mind forever forfeited.

"New electronic gadgets like computers and iPads are demanding less and less from the users. For the sake of sales, the operating systems of the new gadgets are fast gravitating towards the level of an idiot," Wang wrote.

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