Monday, December 7, 2009
The dumbest generation pushes back on the man who knew too little
So this fella, Mark Bauerline, wrote The Dumbest Generation (how the digital age supefies young Americans and jeopardizes out future [or, don't trust anyone under 20]). This article is about how us Americans under the age of 30 are more interested in ourselves and the technology that we so eagerly adopt, use, and surround ourselves with than anything academic or intellectual. Well sir, I am an under-30-something and disagree. In the article Mark talks, at length, about Jay Leno's Jaywalking segment as a main reference for his whole point that the youth of America know squat about politics, current events, or anything of substance that will allow the US to remain a major player in the world. While I can agree there are a lot of, well, less than academically oriented folks around are they really a majority? I believe no--that is unless you take Leno's demographic of 18-35 year olds along a strip of bars between 10 PM and 3 AM on a Friday night to be the majority of folks representative of youth culture these days.
Are we youth obsessed with technology? For the most part, yes. But why? Oh, I don't know. Could it be the fact that we have instant access to information that 15 or more years ago would not have been available to the general public en masse? Now Mark purports that while youth have access to such information they defer that information in lieu of more "interesting" media like facebook and myspace. While I cannot disagree that social networking sites are wildly popular and provide a great socializing platform for all, young and old, I disagree that youth don't bother with academic or relevant information.
My biggest rant against Mark is that he NEVER talks about poor standardized test scores or the lack of youth interest in informal academics, news, and politics being correlated to a school curriculum, teaching, or formal educational setting structure. I hate to break it to Mark, but if classes and the information being taught in them isn't the most interesting or given a little pizazz to help make it interesting most people won't find it to be interesting. What if class were interesting enough to pique the interest of a student such that they went out of their way to do further research on a topic, on their own, not as school work, to further their own personally vested interest in something? Wouldn't that be amazing? Well, I hate to break it to you Mark, but it does happen. But particularly (as part of my rant) poor test scores should not be a direct reflection upon the quality of the youth alone. The fact is that what is being taught and how it is being taught plays a major role in student production on standardized testing. Any reason why you don't mention that, Mark? Perhaps it's because you know that it's true and you simply wouldn't be able to rant like crazy had you not done so.
The fact that new media is so entrenched in today's youth does not have to be a negative. Sure there is always a negative side to any overindulgence. But if used in ways that foster peer relationships and personally vested interests then new media far surpasses analog media by leaps and bounds. So please, Mark, don't lump me and the many other deserving youth of America into the Technologaholics Anonymous category simply because I love and use new media and technology in most any and every facet of my life. That'd be like me saying you're just an angry, bitter man because you're use of technology stops at digital literacy.