Get A Life

How sad it is that the social media have taken over the hearts and minds of our young people. We have seen it coming for some time. The evidence suggests that the electronic toys themselves are damaging the brains of those who use them, but the fact that they are addictive is also of major concern. In a recent interview with Katie Couric comments by the author of a book that studied the effects of social media on teen-age girls are most revealing — and disturbing. An article on the internet (speaking of social media) tells us about the problem:

These dangers are just one of the topics journalist Nancy Jo Sales explores in her new book, “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.” She sat down with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric.

“One of the first conversations that I had with some girls in Los Angeles really set the tone for the whole book to me,” Sales told Couric, recounting a specific exchange she had with one of the girls. “She said, ‘Social media is destroying our lives.’ And I said, ‘So why don’t you just go off it?’ And she said, ‘Because then I would have no life.’”

Ponder, if you will, the final remark of that young woman. If she abandons social media she will “have no life.” Aside from the grammatical mistake she makes (“media” is a plural noun) — which has become common with those who tweet and have forgotten how to read and write — this is a terribly sad comment on today’s youth. I assume that this remark was not random but fairly typical of those whom Sales encountered in her research. Without social media this young lady would have no life. Her entire self-concept is wrapped up in the positive reaction of her peers to what she posts on social media. If what she says and shows is not “liked” then she is not liked.

Some years ago I brought up in class that willingness of parents to buy presents for their kids that they know might be harmful. One of the mothers in the class held up her hand and asked “what are we supposed to do? All their friends have those toys.” This is peer pressure in  a society in which acceptance from one’s peers counts for much more than it is worth. But the parallel is almost exact: if my kids don’t start to immerse themselves in social media as young children they will be left out. The schools encourage this as they frequently provide students with the toys and/or assign work that requires that they use them. Thus parents must succumb to the pressures their kids are already subject to, even if they know the electronic toys they subsequently buy for their kids will do them harm. We seem to be caught in a spiral from which there is no escape. At least, none that I can see.

A conspiracy theorist would see behind all this an insidious plot: the powers-that-be want worker-drones and what better way to produce them than to capture their minds? I am not a conspiracy theorist and reject this interpretation. But I do worry that our young people are entering adulthood with serious damage to their self-esteem (despite our best efforts in that direction) and to the left-hemisphere of their brains — that part that does their thinking.  Since this has been going on for some time now, it may go a long way toward explaining the popularity of the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. It is not a minor problem by any means. As I say, I don’t see a way out of the downward spiral. Do you?

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4 thoughts on “Get A Life

  1. Hugh, I am not expecting a counter-revolution. Being connected at all times is counter-productive and contributes to our dumbing down. Keith

  2. ok.. i’ll backflash here to a story from the cloudforest. a few weeks ago, a precious 12 year old boy doted on us in a pizza restaurant. he spoke a little english, and i interacted with him/asked questions/ etc.. he loved the attention, and after that would dash to greet me, hug me, act as if i were his long lost aunt.. although there were friends w/me, he gravitated toward me.

    today i drove to town to retrieve the electrician (who is also a guide) and the refrigerator he had repaired. as we were driving (in the rain) back to the property, we stopped to interact with a work crew along the road as they cut back bamboo and big trees under the power lines.. eureka, the workers were also the workers in the pizza restaurant! i rolled down my window and asked for two pizzas and two cappuchinos to go – everyone laughed and then the young boy appeared/dashed to my window and hugged me. the electrican invited him to ride with us (40 or so minute drive) and yes, he climbed in to find out where i lived, etc…

    when we reached the property, he noted everything but soon lost interest in the wild.. as the electrician/birding guide and i talked birds and nature, the little one retreated to the hammock and soon veered his attention to his telephone…. sigh… how can a young one turn his back on today’s trends?

    on the way back to town, young one slept while we chatted, braked to see a bird, etc… what does it take to jolt the younger ones back to attention?

      • i learned more about him on the drive back to town.. the electrician told me that his mother ‘is gone’ which implies that she left.. the young lad is precious, and i think lots of adults dote on him.. so maybe he’ll find his way out of the trendy phase and learn that less is more. thanks hugh… about to be offline again… z

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