Social Media And Why You Should Bother With Online Education

Social Media And Why You Should Bother With Online Education

Why should you bother using the most sophisticated information network ever constructed to improve yourself? If that sounds like a sarcastic...

Why should you bother using the most sophisticated information network ever constructed to improve yourself? If that sounds like a sarcastic question, it’s because it is. Online education is one of the greatest breakthroughs in information technology. Radio was intended for emergency communications, but ended up broadcasting rock and roll. (That wasn’t’ actually a bad trade, but

it wasn’t what they expected.) Television had potential to instruct the masses, and wound up with reality TV. That’s the exact opposite.

The Internet really is educating people. Not a night goes by without a few thousand people finding themselves all Wiki’d out at 4 AM and horrified to discover how long they’ve spent researching jet engines and post-Gilligan’s Island acting careers. There’s now so much information available for free we need online education courses to make sure we stay on topic. Think about that: it’s now so easy to learn new things our only problem is finding out too much!

Which is why you should be learning. To help you, we’re comparing online education to some of the other most popular online activities, and comparing their information content.


Facebook was built for college students and it’s brought every single part of that experience online, apart from the “fun” and “education” parts. It’s loaded with the opposite of information, due to the inverse relationship between how much someone should talk about themselves and how much they do. We’ve all ended up listening to idiots for hours because — honestly — they were kind of hot and we we were kind of horny. Imagine that without any risk of physical contact.


One hundred and forty characters or less is more than enough to educate peopel. E = mc^2 is only 6, and it would be five if twitter supported html code. F = ma is only four, and it’s the core of every building you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately twitter’s usual content is slightly below the level of “architecture” and “spacetime.”

Twitter’s most damaging aspect isn’t its content, but its neverending nature. It is a constant stream of distracting input, turning what started as a simple SMS service into an intelligence blocker. You just aren’t as smart when part of your brain is constantly thinking about something else. You’re actively stupider when that “something else” is what someoen in a different country thinks about Bill Keane.


Now we’re getting closer to content, but wikipedia’s entirely open nature leaves some serious vulnerabilities. For one thing it’s user-edited, and while the average standard isn’t bad there’s always a non-zero risk of discovering Abraham Lincoln was a Power Rangers fan, or that World War II was won by the heroic actions of FartFunner992 and his Lolzing commandos.

A more serious risk is the absolute lack of filters. Linking of articles means you surf across an ocean of information, which sounds great, but only because real surfers can’t accidentally travel from a sunny beach to open sewers. Online education sources offer the same wealth of information, and often use online repositories, but the guidelines and assigments mean you end up actually smarter than when you started, rather than just tired and with a vague sense that there are a lot of different kinds of beetle.


All the intelligence of television but without the high standards. YouTube doesn’t just interfere with online education, it sneaks up behind it with a crowbar and bashes the IQ out of your skull. The only upside is that YouTube really does work as online education, but never about things you needed to learn. Most people who can work a computer already know not to skateboard off a second-floor balcony, tase themselves, or shout “watch this!” while running at an until-that-moment-not-angry bear. Our only hope is that attempts at gaining YouTube fame will thin out the herd. In the meantime, use online education to make sure you’re the one laughing at the clips, and not the one being laughed at.