People are reading in larger numbers than they ever have before. I’m intimately familiar with the novel market, and guess who is the biggest consumer of books? YA. Basically, Millenials. The same people who consume social media in huge numbers. And they aren’t just reading Twilight, either. I’ve talked to these kids, and they are insanely mature for their ages… Largely because they have access to the kind of libraries that I could only have dreamed of at that age, accessible from a device that fits in their pockets. And they’re taking full advantage of that.
And let’s talk about my generation. The ones that grew up in the 90s. We brought you minimalism. The Tiny House movement. The Gutenberg Project. The Big Bang Theory. Neil Degrasse Tyson as a cultural icon. Astronauts becoming YouTube stars. Khan Academy. The Martian… The list goes on. These are not entirely “fringe” movements. Many of them are seeing plenty of mainstream success, largely due to support by my generation. So to suggest that we are broadly anti-intellectuals is kind of ignorant.
And so what that Kim Kardashian shows her butt? I can’t say that I like her as a person or find her particular act entertaining, but she’s a fairly successful businesswoman who is showing people that women don’t have to be ashamed of their bodies. They can do what they like with their own “parts” and not have to care what other people think about it. All the while being slut-shamed and called an idiot in spite of the fact that she’s got to be a pretty savvy businesswoman to survive and thrive in such a cut-throat business as the entertainment industry. I think she’s brave.
You’ve got to have some pretty big blinders on if you think that anti-intellectualism is growing in power since 2004, instead of waning. I honestly think that it reached its peak in the late 90s and has been fading ever since. The only reason we don’t yet see this reflected in politics is because people my age and younger aren’t old enough to be represented there.
Once the Baby Boomers die already and the younger people take their place, you will see the intellectual revolution spread further. Assuming the Baby Boomers don’t burn the place down on their way out, which they’re trying to do. :P
Never fear. Things ARE getting better! People are getting smarter! :) The internet and social media are giving people access to knowledge in unprecedented numbers, and people ARE taking advantage of it! If you can’t see that, it’s because you’re way too comfortable reveling in being an “outsider” and somehow missed the shift when people started to decide that being smart was cool.