Is there a new anti-intellectualism? I mean one that is advocated by Internet geeks and some of the digerati. I think so: more and more mavens of the Internet are coming out firmly against academic knowledge in all its forms.
Most geeks are very smart, predominantly male, and capable of making an excellent livelihood from the sweat of their minds. Consequently, as a class, they’re more arrogant than most, and they naturally have a strong independent streak. Moreover, geeks pride themselves on finding the most efficient (“laziest”) way to solve any problem, even if it is a little sloppy. When it comes to getting qualified for work, many will naturally dismiss the necessity of college if they feel they can, because they hate feeling put-upon by educators who can’t even write two lines of code. And the whole idea of memorizing stuff, well, it seems more and more unnecessarily effortful when web searching often uncovers answers just as well (they very misguidedly think). What about books, and classics in particular? Well, geek anti-intellectual attitudes here are easily explained as a combination of laziness and arrogance. The Iliad takes a lot of effort, and the payoff is quite abstract; instead, they could read a manual or write code or engineer some project, and do a lot more of what they recognize as “learning.” The advent of new social media and the decline of the popularity of books are developments that only confirm their attitude. It doesn’t hurt that geek is suddenly chic, which surely only inflates geek arrogance. If they admit to themselves that there is something to philosophy, history, or anything else that takes time, hard study, and reflection to learn, but which does not produce code or gadgetry, then they would feel a little deflated. This doesn’t sit well with their pride, of course. They’re smart, they think, and so how could they be opposed to any worthwhile knowledge?