Reading this Jessica Grose piece — so similar to ten thousand other reports made in recent years — on the miseries induced or exacerbated by digital technologies in the classroom, I think: Everyone knows all this.

Everyone knows that living on screens is making children miserable in a dozen different ways, contributing to ever-increasing rates of mental illness and inhibiting or disabling children’s mental faculties.

Everyone knows that engaging creatively with the material world is better for children — is better for all of us. 

Everyone knows that Meta and TikTok are predatory and parasitical, and that they impoverish the lives of the people addicted to them. 

Everyone knows that social media breed bad actors: each platform does this in its own way, but they all do it, and the more often people engage on such platforms the more messed-up and unhappy they become. 

Everyone knows that the big Silicon Valley companies do not care how much damage they do to society or the environment; they care only about what Mark Zuckerberg likes to call DOMINATION. The occupational psychosis of Silicon Valley is sociopathy. The rise of LLMs is simply the next big step in this sociopathic program. 

Everyone knows all this. Some people, for their own reasons, choose to deny it, but even they know it — indeed, probably no one knows all that I’ve been saying better than Mark Zuckerberg and Shou Zi Chew and Sam Altman do. 

So our problem is not a lack of knowledge; it’s a deficiency of will and a malformation of desire. St. Augustine explained it all to us 1600 years ago: My actions are determined by my will, and my will is driven by what I love. We do badly by our children because we do not love them sufficiently or properly; we do badly by our neighbors for the same reason; we do badly by ourselves for the same reason, because narcissists — and one of the things everyone knows is that all the forces named above breed narcissists — do not rightly love themselves. 

Those of us who care about the future of our children, our neighbors, and ourselves don’t need to repeat what everyone already knows. We need to devote our full attention to one question and one question only: How do we love rightly and teach others to love rightly? If that’s not our constant meditation, we’re wasting our time. If we cannot redirect our desires towards better things than Silicon Valley, AKA Vanity Fair, sells, then nothing, literally nothing, will get better. 

P.S. Why didn’t I remember Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” when I wrote this post? Austin Kleon reminded me. This is what in footy is called “missing a sitter.”