Bill Keller Worried We’re Outsourcing Our Brains

First he was grumbling about aggregation, taking potshots at Arianna Huffington, and now New York Times executive editor Bill Keller does his stick in the mud routine with social media.

The Twitter trap, as Keller calls it, is an ever present distraction. “Unlike the virtual fireplace or that nesting pair of red-tailed hawks we have been live-streaming on, Twitter is not just an ambient presence. It demands attention and response. It is the enemy of contemplation. Every time my TweetDeck shoots a new tweet to my desktop, I experience a little dopamine spritz that takes me away from . . . from . . . wait, what was I saying?”

Keller tried to provoke a debate by tweeting out #TwitterMakesYouStupid, then highlighted the fact that this failed to create a constructive conversation. “In an actual discussion, the marshaling of information is cumulative, complication is acknowledged, sometimes persuasion occurs. In a Twitter discussion, opinions and our tolerance for others’ opinions are stunted. Whether or not Twitter makes you stupid, it certainly makes some smart people sound stupid.”

The thing is, Keller didn’t engage in an actual discussion. So while his article has provoked a storm of commentary on the web, some of which has been quite smart, Keller has only sent 20 tweets in his career. And the article he wrote in its place is no less hyperbolic than most of the discussion online. “Last week my wife and I told our 13-year-old daughter she could join Facebook. Within a few hours she had accumulated 171 friends, and I felt a little as if I had passed my child a pipe of crystal meth.” Bill Keller Worried We’re Outsourcing Our Brains