Umberto Eco against social networks: “It is the invasion of idiots” – La Tercera

A novelist, but also a semiologist and philosopher, the Italian Umberto Eco was one of the leading thinkers of the 20th century. In his essays he addressed topics such as art, beauty, literature, language.

In this sense, the distinguished author of The name of the rose, who died in 2016 at the age of 84, managed to express opinions regarding the era of the internet and social networks. Their positions? Absolutely critical. It must be understood that Eco, in addition to being an intellectual, was a declared bibliophile. In other words, he absolutely believed in the relationship between the book object and the hands. This is what Byung-Chul Han raises in No-Things, on the fact that things exist as long as they are tangible, and that in the digital world there are more accesses than concrete things.

So much so that at a conference in Milan in 1991, he defended the idea of ​​highlighting books as an efficient method of reading. “The lover of reading, or the scholar, loves to underline contemporary books, among other things because, at a distance of years, a certain type of underlining, a mark in the margin, a variation between black marker and red marker, they remember a reading experience ”.

Therefore, a hyper-connected and virtual world, Eco must have been uncomfortable. That is why their positions before social networks are so blunt.

“Social networks give the right to speak to legions of idiots who first spoke only at the bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. They were quickly silenced and now have the same right to speak as a Nobel laureate. It is the invasion of idiots, ”he said in La Stampa in June 2015.

“Television has promoted the people’s fool, with respect to whom the viewer feels superior. The drama of the internet is that it has promoted the village idiot to the level of the bearer of truth. ” ABC, April 2015.

“The phenomenon of Twitter is on a positive side, think of China or Erdogan. There are those who even argue that Auschwitz would not have been possible with the Internet, because the news would have spread virally. But on the other hand it gives the right to speak to legions of imbeciles ”, speech at the University of Turin.

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“The Internet may have taken the place of bad journalism… If you know that you are reading a newspaper like El País, La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera…, you may think that there is a certain control of the news and you trust it. On the other hand, if you read a newspaper like those English in the afternoon, sensationalists, you don’t trust it. The opposite happens with the Internet: you trust everything because you don’t know how to differentiate the reputable source from the crazy one. Just think of the success of any web page on the Internet that talks about plots or that makes up absurd stories: they have an incredible following, of browsers and important people who take them seriously ”, he said in El País.

“Some time ago you could know the source of the news: Reuters agency, Tas …, just as in the newspapers you can know their political option. With the internet you don’t know who is talking. Even Wikipedia, which is well controlled. You are a journalist, I am a university professor, and if we access a certain web page we can know that it is written by a madman, but a boy does not know if he is telling the truth or if it is a lie. It is a very serious problem, which has not yet been solved, “he said on ABC.

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Umberto Eco against social networks: “It is the invasion of idiots” – La Tercera