Moreover, disillusion seems to be spreading far beyond the Weighty Book crowd; the sea of digital faith is retreating even for, one might say, real people. These days, it’s common to hear melancholy roars of concern over various kinds of digital addiction, as well as the problem of sedentary lifestyles and the danger of ADHD.
And nowhere does the tide of concern seem higher than in Wellington, Kansas, population 7,800. In that little town, people are riled up over a new tablet-based curriculum, Summit Learning, developed by Facebook engineers and distributed for free by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.
For instance, there’s factory supervisor Tyson Koenig, who told the Times on April 21, “We’re allowing the computers to teach and the kids all looked like zombies.” And so Koenig yanked his fourth grader out of the local school. (Some will say, citing good evidence, that ever since the 2016 election, the Times has been markedly hostile to Facebook—indeed, Facebook itself says it—yet long before the Times got there, the Kansas controversy was plenty real.)
Thus it seems that we’re entering into a paradoxical twilight time, an era astride two ages. On one side of the twain, digital domination seems unstoppable, and yet on the other side, people don’t trust it.