Deep down I’ve always been dancing the following theme here at bent spoon, but always been too timid to come out and write it. As I start to try to articulate it, however, you will quickly come to realize why: not because what I’m about to write is so outlandish or inflammatory, but because it’s hard to quantify.
Parents of school age children in particular — but not to exclude anyone else who has ever parented or been parented (essentially anyone who chooses to engage in life) — struggle with many issues in raising their kids. There is something palpable in the air. Life IS different now. Something IS different than what childhood and parenting was 30 years ago.
Much of the difference is good, and welcomed, but that which is not right, has gone painfully wrong.
Or has it?
And herein lies the problem. HOW do you define what’s gone wrong?
And in our always wired, Facebook-LinkedIn, unlimited texting first world quagmire how do you even begin to address what’s gone wrong without setting off a cascading chain reaction of unintended consequences that do nothing more than make things more complicated, and even worse than before?
In my heart I feel that Alvin Tofler had something in the 1970 when he wrote the book Future Shock. The magical inventions that revolve around digital communications technology are creating an environment that is difficult (if not impossible) for human beings to keep up with.
I also see, however, and agree with the arguments of many high-tech evangelists (people who are passionate about promoting the virtues of our new digital inventions) that human beings are incredibly malleable and adaptable, and that the generation of youth who are growing up with all things digital (Digital Natives as defined by many people) will see and interact with our world in a way that we cannot even fathom.
So is this really just an inflection point of a generation gap like none has ever seen before? One that is also confused because the tools of the new generation are also inextricably woven into the fabric of our consumerism culture, enticing and in some cases forcing the older generations to also participate in this change?
And all the while these new tools of the younger (and older) generations — social media, the cloud, content at your finger tips 24/7 — feed the masses what? Everything from the nasty vitriol of presidential politics where a party is more than happy to cannibalize itself, to the vacuous Kardashians. Say you take the time to limit yourself to Discovery Network products like History Channel or Discovery Channel — even Frontline on PBS — if you have any content knowledge in the subjects they present you quickly find that even they sensationalize their content for the sake of keeping people interested.
I know this is really nothing new: newspapers did this 200 years ago. But now we are bombarded by this rarely 100% accurate information, with few options to consume, then unplug, sit, think, ponder, and responsibly consider what we’ve taken in.
So what IS truly wrong? Nothing? Everything?
I suspect the person who says that they unequivocally know the answer is also wrong.
So, then, who do we trust? And if everyone is amping up their story with hyperbole, where do we turn for information?
I do have one suggestion, and it isn’t here online; we turn back to ourselves, our families, and our PHYSICAL communities: the people who you can see and touch and have a harder time simply turning off with a touch of a screen, or click of a mouse.