We spend so much time – even, I am ashamed to say it, those of us over 40 – on Twitter and Facebook we have lost the ability to analyse.
Over Christmas, I tried to read Jane Austen’s Persuasion. This was one of her novels I’d never got round to when I was younger, and a friend had recommended it. But after several attempts to get through the first chapter, while staying at my mother’s house, I had to give up. The prose was so slow, the plot apparently non-existent, I became bored of nothing happening. “It’s because you’re always on Twitter,” my mother said, scolding me like I was 14, not 40, “you’ve lost touch with what it’s like to read a 19th century novel.”
Judging by new research into social networking, she is right. We spend so much time – even, I am ashamed to say it, those of us over 40 – on Twitter and Facebook we have lost the ability to analyse. Absorbing so much information may be giving us more knowledge, but this is all superficial. We rely on others to do the hard work, but when we need to think about something for ourselves, we are stumped. Instead of considering the answer to tough questions, our impatience makes us rush to respond – often incorrectly. Perhaps someone could start tweeting every line of Persuasion – but then I’d still find it difficult to follow.