Joe Queenan hits the nail somewhat on the head with his serious tongue-in-cheek analysis of the perils of public self revelation.
But of all the personal information disclosed on Facebook -- and that includes those exquisitely pretentious quotes about the meaning of life -- it seems to me that the section with the greatest potential to catch up with people down the road is "Favorite Books."Precisely. And what do people read?
My daughter, who graduated from Harvard in 2006, is constantly drawing my attention to the preferred reading materials of her classmates, ostensibly the future leaders of America. She does this not only because surveying the stratospheric level of post-adolescent glibness is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, or watching the Lakers, but because she believes that American society as a whole has a right to know what lies ahead as the best and the brightest move into leadership roles. By the looks of things, it is not going to be pretty.If not for Ayn Rand it would seem that students almost are like most people. Which is not exactly big news:
The most striking thing about the Favorite Books section is the lack of hesitance to identify less-than-immortal books -- "The Godfather," "The Notebook," "The Da Vinci Code," assorted trash by David Baldacci -- as rave faves. This, coupled with the alarming popularity of the voluble crypto-fascist Ayn Rand, strongly suggests that the Ivies may not be getting the job done, culture-wise, these days.
I'm not suggesting that young people today are dumber or less sophisticated than their forebears. I am merely saying that because previous generations lacked the technology to make their callowness available for all to see, they have been spared the pain of being ceaselessly reminded of the indiscretions of an intellectually derelict youth.That is why some of us prefer ceaselessly to remind everyone of the indiscretions of an intellectually derelict middleager, by writing blogs.
Before my daughter went to Harvard, I thought that everyone at the school was a ruthless, Machiavellian schemer who played the game of life like six-dimensional chess, cunningly plotting each move decades in advance. The Favorite Books section of Facebook suggests otherwise. No one whose favorite book is "The Da Vinci Code" is thinking six moves ahead.It is a rare treat to see the human condition summed up so well in one sentence. Seems like it is not only his daughter who is reading Chesterton.