The Responsibility of Writing: The Need for Critical Thinking in the Age of Convenience
“We have never been able to communicate better… And yet, it seems to me, our collective knowledge of what’s happening around us has diminished… In the digital age, when disinformation travels with disruption, when countless interest groups on the left and right can shout down measured voices, the need for serious [writing], for objective inquiry, for the dissemination of reasonable ideas and fair criticism, compellingly presented, has seldom been greater.”
– John Stackhouse, Investigative Journalist
Writers are a vital part of society, as they have been for thousands of years. Without written communication, we would have no adequate medium through which to understand ourselves, our history, and our world. Just as written works from past centuries enlighten our history, the written word of the 21st century will offer our descendants insight into the values, morals and priorities of our time. And we will be held accountable.
The modern age of global social networking has inevitably expanded our access to the written word. In many ways, this is one of the most significant achievements of our time. The expansion of communications has opened a vast pool of potential for modern society. Modern resources allow us to share ideas freely, and this has opened many opportunities to learn, to expand, and to use diversity to our advantage. The ability to communicate so easily offers us an opportunity to come together as humans.
While it is necessary to appreciate and utilize the unlocked potential of communications, it is equally important to recognize how ease of access has effected the acts of writing and reading. The expansion of communications has increased the quantity of the written word, while drastically decreasing the quality. Modern values of accessibility and convenience have taken a superior stance over values such as integrity, thoughtfulness and critical analysis.
The modern preference for a “quick-fix” has allowed the act of writing (and reading) to suffer from lack of critical, analytical perspective. Writing should find its value in qualities such as unbiased approach, thoughtful analysis, and purposeful intent. Advised through modern compositions which evade these qualities, our perspectives of the world become narrow, biased and unenlightened.
When the members of the free press are writing irresponsibly – when facts, evidence, analysis and critical thinking have taken a backseat – we have failed at using communicative resources to our advantage. Such irresponsible writing contributes to an apathetic lack of critical thinking in readers, who find themselves uneducated and ill-advised, forming strong opinions based on articles which have little basis in factual evidence or sound logic.
As a writer who wishes to build a career founded on professional, responsible and advised composition, I am disappointed and unsettled by the inaccuracy of much of the information I read. I am further disturbed by the public’s willingness to accept written word as fact, without further consideration.
When articles of ill-advised and biased opinion are allowed to thrive – and when such unfounded compositions are validated by the public – writers of all kinds have an immense responsibility to be unbiased, educated, analytical and honest. The act of writing must pride itself on its ability to examine and analyze, to recognize details and complexities, to appreciate the full scope of various topics, and to attempt to explore and understand “the bigger picture.”
Now, more than ever, it is necessary to approach the act of writing with a true respect toward its purpose and far-reaching consequences. Writers and readers alike should set aside personal bias, employ critical thinking, and approach their tasks with purposeful intent, moving toward a perspective of the world which is thoughtful, enlightened, and honest.
As the biographers of humanity, writers have a great responsibility to employ a consistently thoughtful and purposeful approach. Our modern age of convenience is permeated with apathy and indifference. If our writers are not genuine, passionate, and critical, they will only promote apathetic attitudes and assist our generation in leaving behind a disappointing legacy.
So, if you’re not a genuine, passionate defender of the impact and power of writing; if you don’t feel that you have an immense responsibility as a writer – please, put down the pen.