Association “Petit Philosophy”
INTRODUCTION TO THE TOPIC
“I grew up in a physical world, and I speak English. The next generation is growing up in a digital world, and they speak social,” Angela Ahrendts once said. And there is no denying that social media has impacted the way we connect with each others in a drastic way. Over the past two decades, communication has experienced a substantial transformation. What was a rather local offline world is now truly a worldwide web of information sharing and data distribution that doesn’t sleep 24/7. Social media plays the most significant role here – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok became the necessary medium of social exchange, and, as their popularity exponentially rises, so do their critics who yearn for the good old ways.
Materials that should be issued include: Computer, projector, and pen and papers for the students. If it’s not possible to gain access to a computer and projector, teacher may use a paper template with quotes that are offered up to discussion during the workshop.
Learning outcomes that will be attained through workshop:
- better understanding of value of social media;
- encouraged responsibility for online communication;
- supported the development of dialogue skills;
- supported the development of critical thinking.
LESSON BREAKDOWN – WORSKHOP ACTIVITIES
Example 1. A “Hook” or a “Stimulus”: lesson can begin with a visual introduction that evokes a certain type of reaction. It can be an illustration, or a short 10-second video, or a quote. This particular workshop will use a quote to set up a workshop, on the next page, but it can also use the illustration above.
- Workshop begins with the moderator reading students (or asking students to read for themselves from the screen) next quote:
CRITIQUE OF TWITTER“Superficial, sudden, unsifted, too fast for the truth, must be Twitter. Does it not render the popular mind too fast for the truth? […]. What need is there for the scraps of news in a minute? How trivial and paltry is Twitter? […] That it is of very great use cannot be questioned, but how will its uses add to the happiness of mankind? Has Twitter done any good? Has it banished any evil, mitigated any sorrow?” […] Twitter is not a very clear narrator of facts.”
- Who agrees with this quote? Why?
- Who disagrees with this quote? Why?
- Do you agree with the claim that Twitter is not a very clear narrator of facts? What does that mean?
- How can you explain the “need for the scraps of news in a minute”?
- Is Twitter truly “too fast for the truth”? What does that mean? What is “truth” here?
2. After the first round of discussion, which can last from 10 to 15 minutes, moderator reveals that this is not a real quote. The original was taken from The New York Times, published on August 19, 1858, and it is actually a critique of telegraph. Moderator shows the real quote, asking students to compare it with the first one while reading:
CRITIQUE OF TELEGRAPH“Superficial, sudden, unsifted, too fast for the truth, must be all telegraphic intelligence. Does it not render the popular mind too fast for the truth? […] What need is there for the scraps of news in ten minutes? How trivial and paltry is the telegraphic column? […] That it will be of very great use cannot be questioned, but how will its uses add to the happiness of mankind? Has the land telegraph done any good? Has it banished any evil, mitigated any sorrow? […] The telegraph is not a very clear narrator of facts.”
- Can you compare critique of Twitter and critique of telegraph – are there really similarities to observe?
- Do you think that telegraph negatively impacted the way we communicate? Can you observe any consequences today?
- Knowing that the first quote is fabricated – does it lose any value to you?
- Does the first critique of Twitter seem different to you now that you know that people criticized another invention almost 200 years ago in a similar fashion? How and why?
- Is there positive or negative value in both Twitter and telegraph that can be assigned objectively? What makes them positive or negative inventions?
Communication is a living organism, and it constantly evolves, changes and adapts to the available tools and inventions of humanity. Every revolution brings with it skepticism, fear of the new unknown, and critique of the changes, which don’t necessarily have to be positive or negative. Similarly, as students now discussed critique of digital and telegraphed word, every time when we change the way we communicate, we can find objections, so next example that will be shown is critique of pressed word, and critique of written word. Students will now observe 4 stages of communication critique, arranged chronologically:
- Critique of the digital word (current)
- Critique of the telegraphed word (cca. 200 years old)
- Critique of the pressed word (cca. 500 years old)
- Critique of the written word (cca. 2500 years old)
3. Moderator show students next two quotes:
CRITIQUE OF GUTENBERG“It was okay that the act of copying was hard. It built character, in Trithemius opinion, the same way as chopping wood. For monks, labor was part and parcel of devotion, and if you weren’t good at writing, you could do binding, or painting, or for heaven’s sake practice. And it goes even further: the labor of manuscript writing was something for monks to do — for there was no greater danger for the devout soul than idleness. For among all the manual exercises, none is so seemly to monks as devotion to the writing of sacred texts.”
Historical analysis of a
15th century Luddite abbot Johannes Trithemius
CRITIQUE OF WRITTEN WORD“If men learn this [writing and reading], it will implant forgetfulness in their souls. They will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only the semblance of wisdom, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much while for the most part they know nothing. And as men filled not with wisdom but with the conceit of wisdom they will be a burden to their fellows.”
Pharaoh criticizes Thoth’s invention of written word,
as told by Socrates in Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus
- Did you find anything in the critique of Gutenberg that you agree or disagree with? What and why? Is this an objective critique?
- Did you find anything in the critique of written word that you agree or disagree with? What and why? Is this an objective critique?
- Concentrating on Twitter, if you compare it with other quotes, can you find any similarities?
- What are the quotes truly criticizing?
- Do they criticize the invention, or the way people use/will use it?
- Do the tools we use to communicate have inherent responsibility for proper use?
- Who is responsible if any of these inventions can be perceived as having negative impact?
- Online article “In 1858, People Said the Telegraph Was ‘Too Fast for the Truth”
- Plato, dialogue Phaedrus
- Online article “But my rage is the machine: Using Twitter to make philosophy hilarious”
- Online article “Would Plato tweet? The Ancient Greek guide to social media” [https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210922-would-plato-tweet-the-ancient-greek-guide-to-social-media]
- Online article “Does Twitter Prefer Analytic or Continental Philosophy?” [https://www.carneades.org/2021/09/20/does-twitter-prefer-analytic-or-continental-philosophy/]
- Online article “What Would a Stoic Do? Twitter Edition by Massimo Pigliucci” [https://modernstoicism.com/what-would-a-stoic-do-twitter-edition-by-massimo-pigliucci/]
- Online article “Twitter as an Enabler of Critical Thinking” [https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2011/10/twitter-as-an-enabler-of-critical-thinking/]
- Paper “Can Twitter be used to Teach Critical Thinking?” [https://www.academia.edu/353604/Can_Twitter_be_used_to_Teach_Critical_Thinking]