The Dumbest Generation (review)

April 1, 2011
By JoyousGache BRONZE, Missoula, Montana
JoyousGache BRONZE, Missoula, Montana
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even the best of foods don't taste good when they hit the bottom of my lung

In Mark Bauerline’s book, The Dumbest Generation, teenagers at large are accused of lacking scholastic-effort, general intelligence, and the ability to pay attention to anything without constant stimulation. Though heavy in emotion, disappointment and despair, and thoroughly explained to the point of being repetitive at some points, these negative judgments are strangely lacking in solid evidence. Bauerline seems to, as far as proof of his opinions, depend almost entirely on the claim that teens are too dumb to argue their own case anyways. This perspective is similar to that of people whose minds are disturbed, but try to convince humanity otherwise. He writes in a way that tries to convince adults that, if teens don’t believe they are members of the dumbest generation, that is enough proof in itself, because they are too dumb to realize how dumb they actually are.
The first, and perhaps most important, flaw in his argument, is the lack of clarity in what he is actually trying to prove. In the title itself, he places blame of technology and media; “How the digital-age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future”. Yet, less than ten pages into the book itself, he states that his research has been “Based solely on intellect” after a long list of variables he did not take into account (some being “lifestyle” and “ambition”). Based on that, how is technology to blame? Intellect is infinitely different from person to person, even if they are in the same generation. Take the current president, versus some used-car salesman who happens to be the same age. Think of an American student of this generation, who dreams of being a doctor, versus one whose greatest ambition is too get a “d” average in his classes so he can pass into the next grade. No one is the same, and for Bauerline to make such an extreme generalization, makes me wonder whether the entire book is about a generation, or just two or three teens he happened not to respect.
And, even if he is blaming technology, what’s so horrible about it? Technology has proven to be an asset in the lives of millions, but Bauerline argues that it has corrupted the minds of our youth. Youth who, according to him, enjoy more when “the gifts of life lead to social joys, not intellectual labor”. I’m curious, wouldn’t adults as well, perhaps Bauerline himself, rather experience “Joy” than “Labor”? Yes, it easily proven that the majority of teenagers spend a great amount of time on the computer or their cell-phones. The average is close to seven hours a day all-together. But how is that different from the millions of adults who spend that same time watching television? From the middle-ages men who play golf for weeks on end? There are even those who toss away all ties the world, because of the latest novel they feel a personal need to read. There is no one in the world who does not spend too much time doing something, whether constructive or not. Plus, we must all remember; teenagers are still children. Children who have yet to grow.
On that note, how is it that someone who has spent so much time writing about the minds of adolescents, does not take into account that they are still growing and developing? Thousands of people from other generations have grown up with similar problems, “addictions” of sorts, toward unproductive media. Some would watch television, some would listen to rock music, and some would even do drugs with ever adolescent night. But a greater percentage than not have matured, and become citizens of America, paying taxes, working hard and living their lives. People who live healthily. People who are apparently not members of the “Dumbest generation”. How is it that a truly intellectual person can assume he knows the future? That he alone knows what each and every person, born in a specific range of time, will grow up to be, when he does not even bother to take anyone’s goals and ambitions into account, and bases his opinion on prejudice alone?
The Dumbest Generation, is written well. Each sentence is carefully thought out, and worded in the most convincing way possible. It is obvious that Bauerline cares very much about the subject of our youth and their behavior, and wishes only to warn and inform. But, despite his good intentions, the proof behind the prejudice is too insubstantial to convince me of its truth. Perhaps I am only personally offended by the stereotype I have been caged in by his writing. Perhaps not. It is still unclear to me, whether he blames technology, or the people. And I believe he and, all who believe him, should give this generation a chance to grow up.


“The Dumbest Generation”

By Mark Bauerlline

“Is Technology Good or Bad? Yes.”

The Wall Street Journal; online

“Some smart kids get bad grades”

Dr. Linda’s Blog (

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