In keeping with the theme of my last post (Nov 18), Unto us a Machine is Born, as well as my prior post (Oct 16), Is Blogging a Revolution? , here’s an article from the education page of Newsweek about the world of teenage Homo Electronicus Migratus called High Tech Hotspots . The italics in the quoted text below are my addition.
“The most wired students in the history of the world…are going off to college. Today’s entering freshmen created PowerPoint presentations in middle school, if not beforeâ€”and yet may have never “dialed” a telephone. They grew up digital: with PCs, broadband and cell phones at the ready. Likelier to reach for Google than for a dictionary, they live-journal their days and photoblog their snaps, trade music and swim in a sea of messagesâ€”e-mail, instant messaging and text. Some of their parents may not even know what verbs like live-journal and IM mean. “Students are so tied in to computing and networking that it’s almost like an extension of their central nervous system,” says Garland Elmore, a professor of informatics and communications at Indiana University. “It’s how they connect to their friends, it’s how they connect to informationâ€”it’s how they connect to their world.”
Here’s my question: is this the most connected generation in history or the most disconnected?
George Will writes in an article titled Rudeness rewarded that we are “entertaining ourselves into inanition” –a state or quality of being empty. Because of our addiction to electronic connectedness, we are not present before others even in their presence, he suggests.
“With everyone chatting on cell phones when not floating in iPod-land, “this is an age of social autism, in which people just can’t see the value of imagining their impact on others.” We are entertaining ourselves into inanition. (There are Web sites for people with Internet addiction. Think about that.) And multiplying technologies of portable entertainments will enable “limitless self-absorption,” which will make people solipsistic, inconsiderate and antisocial. Hence manners are becoming unmannerly in this “age of lazy moral relativism combined with aggressive social insolence.”
I get what Will is talking about. I hate it when I’m talking to someone who then answers a call on his cell. I’m tempted to pull out my cell and call them on the spot. A paradox of life in the 21st century is that we live in an age of isolated connectivity or connected isloation. The person in front of us is less critical than the person beamed into our present reality via satellite.
The aim of “into the mystic…” is to make whatever world we travel more human. We take seriously and exploit the possiblities of the cyber world of relationships, but also take seriously the physicality of human kind. Yes, manners matter. Perhaps part of the etiquette of the 21st century is that all things being equal the f2f encounter is as important [or more] as the electronic one.
Thanks to Michael Martin of Australia and to Jaime Puente of Texas for the articles.
What do you think?
into the mystic…
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