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My Appearance on Italy’s Top Investigative News Show

Presa-Diretta – Maggie Jackson Interview – from Iperconnessi – Oct. 15, 2018
Narrator: “Nine years ago, when we were full of enthusiasm about the arrival of smart phones, Maggie Jackson, working for the Boston Globe, the major newspaper in Boston, wrote a prophetic book, which has just been republished, about distraction and its impact on a society that is constantly connected.”
Jackson: “Distraction is not just about being pushed toward something irrelevant, but also about life exploding into a thousand pieces, and I think this is the sense of our distraction today. We skip from one thing to another, no longer able to understand what is important and what is not. We have created a society that rewards only what is easy and comfortable. But when we have to resolve a difficult issue or answer a complex question, that requires the use of a part of us that is no longer functional in this ‘online world.’ We only see the advantage of having all this information at our disposal. The idea that we have access to immediate information, leaves the impression that information is easy. Everything is downloadable. As one scientist says, “Online you don’t have to face your ignorance.” You never have to say ‘I don’t know.’ You don’t have to be humble any more. But humility is the starting point for learning. To open yourself up to the new is the only way to reach the most optimal answer.”

Jackson: “When you live without paying attention to others, you basically regress to a  more primitive form of thinking, the stereotyping and quick assumptions that make you intolerant and filled with prejudice. The quick takeaway is that you form simplistic categorizations because it’s much easier to hate than to understand. I believe that this culture of distraction leads you quite directly to fascism, to authoritarian cultures, and this, today, is the real danger.”

PresaDiretta Host:  “Okay, so, if you find it too much to attribute even the crisis facing democracy to smartphones, I understand, but in reality the reflections of the writer Maggie Jackson should not be taken literally. What she is telling us is that when everything passes through a smartphone, when political thinking is exhausted and is reduced to the 280 characters of Twitter, when the number of “likes” begin to drive complex political choices, a drift to authoritarianism is closer than its seems today.

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