The High-School Picture [republished from tumblr]

The rant below was originally published on Tumblr, which has an awesome community that took it very seriously. If you’re curious about tumblr generally: the free templates they offer are very well-designed and it is terrific for posting photos. It’s not hard to create a visually stunning Tumblr. In any case:

The High-School Picture [or: Why Tumblr is Worse for Students than most other Social Media] →

All social media can encourage some terrible habits that discourage studying and make people actively hate learning anything. All of you know this: you can spend hours trying to get the right song for your Myspace profile or taking pics of yourself. You’ll spend tons of time messaging girls on Facebook in the hope of some response. Twitter becomes an excuse just to go some place to tweet about it.

But yeah, Tumblr might be the worst of the bunch, given the habits I’ve seen here. Typically, to produce content on the Internet, one has to read something or consider what is worth talking about.

Tumblr’s main strength – the ease of content-production – is a fatal flaw. From 14-18 years of age (at least), you kids need to be reading, not reblogging the same photo of Megan Fox every single day. You need to be reading above and beyond classwork, not just barely doing your assignments.

Why am I placing such an emphasis on reading? Go look at Myspace profiles of people 30 and older. Note how most people are into the same bands they were into during their high school years. Note how most of them haven’t read a book in years, and if they have, it probably wasn’t Hemingway or Steven Pinker. Ask yourself: how did people get this way?

It’s really simple when you think about it: after college, that’s it. Your ability to talk with your friends dwindles down to nothing, life is work and making money. Not only is the time you have reserved for friends pretty much “going to the bar” or “going to church,” but your time to learn anything is radically diminished. And no one cares if you make progress teaching yourself: your job is to make money. That’s adulthood, taking care of yourself so that way no one else has to take care of you.

If that seems a really shallow conception of maturity, it is. And that’s why reading is so critical – it isn’t just that, at your age, you can read about the careers you want and excite your imagination. It isn’t just that you can relate to the innumerable people over the ages who were hurt by love (cf. “If I can stop one heart from breaking”). It isn’t just that reading better things on the Internet will make you a better student and make school that much easier.

No, it’s also that the only way to break the immature conceptions that dominate life nowadays is to bring serious opinions to bear on them. Serious opinions can’t be had in 140 characters or less. The only way you’re going to be a generation that transforms the world for the better is if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t read, you don’t have a chance of doing that.


  1. So so true. Young people ought to focus their abundant time and energy on improving their minds and broadening their horizons. The best thing I didn’t realize I had was a supportive family who allowed me to go to school and basically pursue my own interests without needing to pay bills, feed children, suck up to bosses, compromise with spouses, etc. etc. for 23 whole years. I worked for about 10 of those years, but it wasn’t for necessities. And of course, I squandered most of that time away on stupidity.

    Unfortunately, everybody thinks they’re different. Most (if not all) high school students genuinely believe that they will be different; that they will only work at a job they love and which enriches their lives beyond a paycheck, that they will maintain all of their relationships and finally be free to spend as much time with their friends as they want (doing what they want)!!! That they won’t retire to their couches to sit like a lump every night and that they will never become forgetful or arthritic (boy that happens so much earlier than it should).

    So much good advice is wasted on kids. But really, who ever takes it?

  2. Robert Kiyosaki says that work time is for work, and we’re expected to educate ourselves and explore our interests on our own time. It’s true the quality of our expressions have lowered in quality. People don’t know the difference between “their/there/they’re” or even when to use an apostrophe. Spelling and grammar are astoundingly atrocious.

    It’s just so tragic that in our hyper-busy lives, sitting down with a good book is not only a luxury but one that usually takes lower priority over so many other things.

    Lovely article!

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