It makes sense that as a man growing up I am going to look at the next generation and wave my fist and yell, “Get off my lawn!” As an educator in public schools I see the next generation everyday and interact with them and I feel that is a shift in our society and that scares me. Being a history teacher I understand that every generation struggles with this age old problem: the current older generation is always the best and has always done it the right way, while the younger generation has no drive and will succeed in bringing our society and ultimately the world to an end. This always happens, but let me explain what I see from the ground level and you be the judge if I should shut my big pie hole and just be the old man sitting on the porch and the kids on my lawn are alright.
I see some long term effects of a new generation born and raised with only access to the internet. Being someone who’s generation was raised before the internet and during high school and college watched the internet learn to walk and move from a baby to a child. One of the largest examples I see is when my wife and I take the family out to eat. Be aware that everyone says their kids are hyper or active, but being a person that interacts with 135 kids everyday I can say with a great degree of validity that my kids are not hyper, but are very active. When we go out to eat my two boys touch almost every bag of chips at a deli, will not sit down, have a question about everything, I just took three bathroom breaks between my two boys and I did not even use the restroom once, squirm around in their seats, refuse to eat, are loud, and we cannot eat a meal in peace to save our lives. My wife and I look at each other and wonder if this is the first time that we have taken our boys out of the house before this moment, as they tend to forget the social graces we have so diligently taught them. Although we deal with all this and through all these headaches I have noticed that we are talking and interacting with our children. What I notice more and more is that children are being placated by electronic devices so the parents do not have to interact or so that they will be subdued to not be loud in public. Probably while you are reading this you are questioning in your head whether you do that or not and if you do you are making an excuse for why you do this. If you do not do this you are smiling and agreeing with my observations about how society is changing. Now, do not think I am sitting on my throne way above looking down on the masses thinking how superior I am to the rest of society. I look at my phone while my sons are trying to say something to me. There are times that I get wrapped up in looking at social media for a 10 minute period. The one thing that my wife and I try not to do is let this happen while we are eating dinner or a meal, whether it be at home or in public. The biggest effect that my wife and I see is in children’s vocabulary. We both teach and since electronic devices are a one way street it is causing a dumbing down of our younger generation. There are reasons for this and let me explain.
When you talk to another human being you are having to form thoughts. This is done when you watch a show or video. The difference is that when you are interacting with another human verbally you are thinking and then having to use vocabulary and structure sentences in the correct form. Inside your head you may not think grammatically correct and when you speak to the public after spending many hours just ingesting rather then regurgitating it shows by the vernacular you use and the way you structure those thoughts. With the answer to almost any question at our fingertips and being able to access that information within seconds it baffles me why people do not spend their time learning as much as they can about what they love. I have gone down a watch rabbit hole, where I can talk at a much higher level about the common wrist watch. I say that to bring to the forefront that you can learn anything online and our kids are more interested in taking selfies and looking at other peoples selfies, or looking at things that do not gain knowledge that is usable in everyday life. This human interaction is taking a backseat to a screen that is portable and we can look at and stare in awe. “Wall-E” had some good points and I see us heading down that path. But besides the physical is the mental and this is what really concerns me. We may have access to almost any fact or information within moments, but we are not interacting and using that information for further debate. I see more and more kids looking at something online and taking it as fact. Hell, this blog that you read is not fact, but my thoughts put out into the world via the interwebs. I try to spit out fact, but I am making observations just like everyone else is doing. You may agree with me or you may not, but at least you have read something and will hopefully go out and discuss something new with someone else. Kids have too much information thrown at them to be able to process it all. I do not feel that I am doing a disservice to my children by parceling out technology to them and not just flooding them with it all the time. Children should be taught to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. We have a generation that is growing up that is having a hard time being either. They have so many facts at their fingertips that they are getting lost in the information rather than analyzing that information and discussing it with others to determine what they believe and what to question. One of the many things that my father did to help me learn was always play devil’s advocate with me in whatever stance I took on a subject. It taught me to think of other points of view and then discuss and back up my beliefs with thoughts that I had processed by all the information that I have ingested. The way the world is set up now you are allowed to surround yourself with only people that like the same things you like or agree with your philosophy of life. We are scared to confront someone about their beliefs from fear of having a real life human confrontation.
Louis CK states, “It seems like the better it gets, the more miserable people become. There’s never a technological advancement where people think, “Wow, we can finally do this!” And I think a lot of it has to do with advertising. Americans have it constantly drilled into our heads, every fucking day, that we deserve everything to be perfect all the time.” He also states, “Talking is always positive. That’s why I talk too much.” I tend to agree with him. I hope I am wrong, but am really scared that I may not be.