Okay, parents probably are going to roll their eyes at me, but I’ve been thinking about kids and social media. This includes texting, facebook, Twitter, email, and whatever other social platforms out there. People tend to complain about how this generation is glued to their phone, tablet, computer. And it is excessive. But it’s east to forget how new this all is. I’m 40 years old and I remember being exposed to email when I was 19. I communicated by letter when I was in Germany at 19, and less than twenty years later, using skype to make live video calls from China. From China, ladies and gentlemen and in-betweeners.
In the last 20 years we have gone from virtually no real time global connection (on an individual consumer level, even nationally) to autually teaching students live from across the globe. But what really have we done with it? National boarders are as strong as ever. War seems to have gotten easier. And, as a nation, Americans don’t appear to have any better understanding of other nations. It would be interesting to make a graph that outlines the progression of communications technology along side the progression of geographic knowledge, average number of bilingual people and a basic measurement of compassion for other peoples.
On an individual level, I’m sure many people are much more informed and cultured. On a macro scale, however, the American sense of human decency and rights hasn’t really changed. It may be possible to argue that our access to eachother has simply reinforced our predjudices and hatred. I don’t this is this case. I think it’s more likely that we’ve gotten lazy. Information comes so quick that we’re content with to little partial mini-stories. Headlines more or less. Connecting to other parts of the country and the world may have gotten faster, but we’ve managed to come to our assumptions even faster.
As far as I’m concerned, the answer isn’t to spend less time or more time using social media. The answerer is to use it better. With more reading and less responding. Or, probably even more true, why not examine ourselves as the problem and not our tools. A fool with a Twitter account is still a fool. Trump has made this painfully obvious.
This is where parents might roll there eyes at me. If I had kids I wouldn’t sweat over how much time they spend on the internet, oh their phones, tablets, whatever. I would be more concerned about how that time is spent. Yeah, I know I’ve never had kids so what do I know. Well, squat, that’s about all I know. I’m just exercizing a bit of free-wheeled thinking. I think the oportunities kids have at their fingertips is astounding. The opportunity for learning, understanding, wisdom, all depends, on our ability to communicate well with a wide variety of people. Technology has given us on opportunity to expand our wisdom more than any other time in human history. We should be magnitudes wiser than we are.
The fact that we aren’t any wiser as a human, “intelligent,” species, is not a result of technology. We’re young. Our kids may be more adept at using the apps and the hardware than their parents, but the parents should be better at teaching good communication. The older generations my not understand what LOL means or how to label files or reset a frozen iPad, but they should know what communication is for and how technology should have improved it by now. Old and young need to start listening to each other and learning from eachother. The young know how to use technology, but the elders should be teaching them why to use it, and quit treating it like a distraction, a babysitter. We know better than that. We should be frustrated with how much wiser we should be by now, and we should instill that frustration in each younger generation.