Jake’s post on the Internet Generation Gap is relevant for me. I’m 33. The 20-something MySpace crowd would consider me a dinosaur. I’m sure each young generation criticizes its elders for being slow to adopt new and better ways of doing things. Proof point: I don’t have a MySpace account, I don’t text message much, and I don’t obsess about the next cool Apple product that’s coming out (except for the iPhone, of course). However, I’m not a complete misfit, I do have an online presence, I do IM, and I do live and work on the internet. But, I sometimes wonder if everything we’re doing to be connected and online all the time is preventing us from living a good life off-line.
On Monday I read an article in the Chronicle about how Stanford’s recent commencement speaker (Dana Gioia, leader of the National Endowment for the Arts) blasted the new American culture. I think the most important part of his speech is this:
“Do you want to watch the world on a screen or live in it so meaningfully that you change it?”
Yesterday, I read a few Letters to the Editor regarding this article. They summarize exactly what I think about this new culture:
“Here we have a group of young adults, graduating from one of our country’s most prestigious academic institutions, and they can’t put away their cell phones and other toys long enough to listen politely to a speech made in honor of their achievements.” — Trish Hooper (the last comment on the page)
Frankly, I’m a bit concerned about this next generation. Seems to me that a lot of them have short attention spans (thanks in part to the internet, media, and consumerism). It’s interesting to see the internet becoming more social, but real life becoming less so. In some ways, I think we’re all affected by this. It’s an iPod, cell phone, highly-connected culture. Lots of good things have emerged from this, but how much of that is degrading our ability to live a disconnected life. Food for thought.