Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Generation: "Who Gives A Damn"

I'm growing more and more concerned about the seeming downslide in generational characteristics. Whereas at one point it took decades of time and circumstance to shape the general way we could look at a generation's characteristics, the technological age has bred one distinguishable mindset: who gives a damn. Generation NeXt, as the most recent genegration has been named, is the result of being born into a world of the technological availability of distance and complacency. It's quickly discovered that a person barely has to move at all in order to attain information, play a game, watch a movie, communicate with others, or ironically even physical exert themselves. Smart phones, the Nintendo Wii, Netflix, HBO on Demand, computers and the Internet have drawn many to the idea that little effort, if any, is required in order to get through life. This is contingent however on it's availability which is in no short supply. Parents are more than happy to provide their children with these "distractions" because in essence it takes pressure off of them as well. You don't have to spend as much time being a parent if you plop your kid in front of a TV or computer. Am I suggesting that parents who allow their kids to utilize technology are evil? No, certainly not. The idea however, is to REGULATE the extent and amount. Five-year-olds do not need cell phones. Think of how irradiated they will be before they're eighteen.  The earlier members of the current generation are exposed to the technological availablility of complacency, the harder it will be for them to seperate themselves from it for even a moment. If doesn't seem to matter how many times I tell my students to stop texting in class, they still continue in ferocious obsession. When they're instructed to stop or be dropped from the class, I get looks as though I just killed their puppy. I heard a radio show yesterday morning that talked about a study that was done on young teenagers with regard to technology. All technology other than a land-line phone was taken away from the study group for a few days. The reaction was similar to the withdrawal that drug-addicts experience when they stop using, cold turkey. This suggests a SERIOUS dependency problem.
Technology, while a pervasive and useful tool in networking and communication is producing, in general, a disassocitive society. I think there is a direct coorelation with a breakdown in face-to-face communication, writing skills, discipline, work ethic, and interpersonal relationships. These issues in turn keep the youth dropping out of school, losing jobs, having failed relationships all in which might cause depression and further tangible isolation. Invariably, it leads to the mindset "who gives a damn." The generation of entitlement has given way to a generation of laziness and complacency. The idea that it's too hard because it requires effort so screw it. I'm not suggesting that everyone adheres to such a mindset, but I see it grow with every semester. My colleages and I generally agree that with each passing year, students grow more distant, are less prepared, communicate less, and give up more. This correlates with the growing dropout numbers.
I don't think that technology serves as the single source for modern apathy but I do feel as though it is a substantial part. We've lost a lot of the human face and the human voice in our interactions because of this. Conversations, date proposals, break-ups, and brief bits of information are utilized through phones as opposed to doing what is difficult and looking the figure in the eye. Easy has become practice, and its seeming practicality has become cowardice.


  1. The human brain rewires according to input. Television literally changed your brain and mine into something our grandparents would not recognize. Cell phones and text messages are doing the same thing to the current generation.

    I console myself with this. My children, who are less plugged-in than most, will have outstanding powers of concentration! (Compared to their own generation. We'll leave out comparing them to mine.)

  2. That's excellent. I have no doubt it'll make a difference.