Barack Obama criticises iPod and Xbox era
Mr Obama, who often chides journalists and cable news outlets for obsessing on superficial coverage rather than serious issues, told a class of graduating university students that education was the key to progress.
"You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter," Mr Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.
"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, - none of which I know how to work - information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.
He bemoaned the fact that "some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction," in the clamour of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
Mr Obama, who uses the handful of Commencement addresses that he delivers each year to meditate on societal developments broader than the minutiae of everyday politics, warned the world was at a moment of "breathtaking change."
"We can't stop these changes... but we can adapt to them," he said, adding that US workers were in a battle with well-educated foreign workers.
"Education... can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time," he said.
Hampton University is a historically black college, and Mr Obama noted the huge disparity in educational achievement between African Americans and other racial groups in the United States and the world.
But he urged the graduates to take inspiration from the example of Dorothy Height, a civil and women's rights icon who died, aged 98, last month, who fought racial prejudice to secure a college education.
"A black woman, in 1929, refusing to be denied her dream of a college education," Obama said, reprising Miss Height's life story.
"Refusing to be denied her rights, refusing to be denied her dignity, refusing to be denied... her piece of America's promise."
Mr Obama argued that from the days of the pioneer politicians who founded the United States, until the modern day, education and knowledge had been the key to progress and US democracy.
comments powered by Disqus
- Raleigh Trevelyan, Chronicler of a Notable Family, Dies at 91
- Former spokesman of B.C. anti-immigration group wants UBC history prof fired
- Harvard's Steven Shapin Wins History of Science Award
- Middle East Studies Association Fights a Rising Tide of Critics
- Juan Cole says the postwar Middle East governments were modeled on the Soviet Union, though not communist (interview)