Saturday, July 17, 2010

What the Internet is Doing to the Younger Generation

How will the Internet change the way our children think feel and act? This is in response to Raamesh Gowri Raghavan’s note here on Facebook, which in turn is prompted by Nicholas Carr’s book, “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.”

As the father of a net-savvy youth (and also be reasonably skilled to navigate the medium and understand its working [alas, he doesn’t think so, he being the bachelor of computer science]) I understand the difference between his world and mine. The differences quoted below may be subtle, the nuances superficial, but change has happened between these two worlds and keeps happening. I don't think the Internet is the only medium to be blamed, the blame lies with a host of other media, i.e., television, mobile phones, music players. I have a sneaking admiration for my world, which I feel was more complete. However that could be just nostalgia and loving of oneself more than any other. Apologies if I sound overtly judgmental.

Here are some of those vital differences alluded to above which may actually be the raving of a man getting old:

My world
His world
Information had to be researched from libraries with difficulty
Information is available at a click
Friendships were more personal, local, and based on compatibility
Friendships are international, casual and treated with indifference
Not much peer pressure, could be more individual
Peer pressure is intense, I can feel it, want the very best to stand out among peers
Had more respect for age, experience and worldly wisdom
Not much respect for people who haven’t made it in the social chain
More patience wrote full sentences and didn’t use abbreviation
Less patience and prone to using “u” for “you” and “r” for “are”
Since knowledge was limited action was taken, not mulled over till no action was possible
This generation can’t take decisions of their own, they have to be guided
Less knowledge but used knowledge more
More knowledge but is used less
Since information was rare even useless information was stored
In a surfeit of information, knowledge is discarded and disbelieved
More idealistic
Less idealistic
More empathetic, moved by violence on screen
Less empathetic, can see graphic violence and be unmoved by it
Spiritual, believed in God and supernatural
Not much spiritual, and not concerned to much with the supernatural

The attention deficit Raghavan mentions is just because of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) which even television addicts suffer from. Having worked with youngsters I feel these attention deficits could lead to serious problems concentrating on long-range goals setting rather than short-range satiations. My two-bit for the discussion. Beg your pardon if this sounds like an aging man’s rant (remember having mention this before) but the older generation has always complained about the new. Therefore this post.

1 comment:

Chitra Zacharias said...

Hi John!! I totally agree. Being the parent of a 14-year old myself, I found myself nodding as I was reading your table. Youngsters nowadays neither have the time nor the patience to listen for more than a couple of minutes. It's scary to think that they are going to be the workforce of tomorrow. But maybe they will learn with experience, just like we did!! If I might add another difference, this generation gives up too easily when something is challenging. Also, they want to be successful very quickly and do not have the patience to wait for their reward. But then I think of myself at that age and I was nowhere near as smart and savvy as the youngsters of today are. So maybe there is hope yet!!