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Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll
February 17, 2007 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant messages. They are interested only in attention—and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another.
So goes the common wisdom but things in fact are more complex.
Say Everything
posted by y2karl (94 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heh, just sent this article to my dad this morning. I've been on his case to try delicious for a year and a half, and he still won't do it. I'm hoping this articles helps him see my perspective on the issue.
posted by heresiarch at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2007


I don't care what these kids blog about, as long as they're not doing it on my lawn!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:50 PM on February 17, 2007


The internet is getting people laid now? Things sure have changed since 1995.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2007


Hahah, he mentioned Casey Serin. Anyone else read his blog? I find it fascinating.
posted by delmoi at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2007


MetaFilter: We know your type.
posted by hal9k at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2007


On this subject I'd like to link to this comment by ND¢. There he theorizes that the internet corrects for the zombiefication of humanity wrought by post-industrial society.

In a way we've gone from the zombiefication to zomgification of humanity.
posted by Kattullus at 2:05 PM on February 17, 2007 [8 favorites]


I just want them to get off my lawn. And I don't even have a lawn. I may get one, just so I can tell them to get off it.
posted by jonmc at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I was a little dissapointed, the guy basically featured a couple young "internet celebrities" (and not even interesting ones). I don't really think anything is diffrent, ten 15 years ago we would have been passing around links to Amy Fisher's myspace if it had existed. Is he right about the music gap, didn't "grown ups" hate hip-hop?

The problem with analysis like this is that you can cherrypick anecdotes to fill any premise. Also, Paris Hilton's celebrity is utterly conventional, not really involving the internet at all.
posted by delmoi at 2:10 PM on February 17, 2007


I should be a young teen internet celebrity. But then MetaFilter ate my soul.
posted by liquorice at 2:12 PM on February 17, 2007


ten 15 years ago we would have been passing around links to Amy Fisher's myspace if it had existed.

heh. Pete, the dude who sold amy the gun she used, was a college buddy of mine.
posted by jonmc at 2:13 PM on February 17, 2007


Also, Paris Hilton's celebrity is utterly conventional, not really involving the internet at all.

Except that she gained her notoriety because her sex tape became freely available on the internet.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2007


jonmc, if you can't afford to get a lawn in NY, you could always get one in Second Life.
posted by porpoise at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm the old man with the lawn, and I don't necessarily see anything wrong with this, except the idea that those damn kids seem to have this idea that they can't and won't have any privacy anyway.

So are they more likely to accept the idea of the NSA intercepting all of their phone calls - because privacy is so over? Brings to mind the concept of Paris Hilton with an armband, which she'd probably sport as an accessory - while blithely accepting all that it stands for.
posted by kgasmart at 2:24 PM on February 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


Disappointing that the "disgusted, dismissive squawk" that lies at the center of the article and leads the post off is a constructed paraphrase. I guess an actual quote of an actual curmudgeon would have been less perfect, less damningly one-sided.
posted by cortex at 2:27 PM on February 17, 2007


(all kidding aside, there's always been people willing to expose all aspects of their lives publicly, it's just that now there's an inexpensive set of tools that allow just about anyone to do it. And like always, some people lead interesting enough lives or have novel enough perspectives or enough writing talent to make such an enterprise interesting and some don't)
posted by jonmc at 2:29 PM on February 17, 2007


After letting this sink in a few minutes... it strikes that this is just the old mating dance writ large. It's dividing attention between a million people instead of a few hundred. They're flitting from thing to thing to thing because there's just so much out there... and can then, in theory, choose exactly what they want for both friends and lovers.

Like the article says, it's hard to tell the long-term effects, but if you're young and looking to hook up (in all senses of the word), why on earth wouldn't you exploit a tool that lets you talk to the entire world at once? Woody Allen famously said that being bisexual doubles your chance of a date on Saturday night.... being a bit of a camwhore must multiply it many times more.

The Creole versus Pidgin line is the most telling in the entire article. We Pidgin speakers may need to wait another ten years for the native Creoles to tell what all this really means.
posted by Malor at 2:30 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


argh. Left a word out. "to tell us what all this really means."
posted by Malor at 2:32 PM on February 17, 2007


I'm too old for this shit.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 2:41 PM on February 17, 2007


yeah, well, i told those kids, time and time again, get off my lawn ... GET OFF MY LAWN!!

now they won't mow it for me

bastards
posted by pyramid termite at 2:45 PM on February 17, 2007


but seriously, eventually they'll realize that what you say and what you are isn't all that interesting ... it's what you DO ... and although it's possible to show that on a blog, it doesn't always happen ... or the blog reveals that the person doesn't really do that much
posted by pyramid termite at 2:48 PM on February 17, 2007


the blog reveals that the person doesn't really do that much

but a talented writer can make the most mundane events interesting. but most people aren't good writers.
posted by jonmc at 2:51 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


These people don't have to limit themselves to "writing" as their media, though, jonmc. They have the whole panoply of contemporary media to work with—video, audio, etc. Writing underlies some of those media, but not all of them, and it's definitely not make-or-break.
posted by cgc373 at 3:10 PM on February 17, 2007


Ain't it a bitch to become your parents?

I say let 'em do what they need to do. Every generation has to have its time on stage. Twas ever thus.
posted by lometogo at 3:13 PM on February 17, 2007


These people don't have to limit themselves to "writing" as their media, though, jonmc. They have the whole panoply of contemporary media to work with—video, audio, etc.

OK, Captain Semantics, a good writer/singer/videographer/artist/fingerpainter/ventriloquist/tapdancer/flatulence -manipulator could make even the most mundane events interesting. My point still stands.
posted by jonmc at 3:16 PM on February 17, 2007


Durn kids, get offa my-

Wait, that joke's been made already. Three times.

Speaking as one younger than those in the article, you can lead a plenty interesting life without a blog/livejournal/sullenteenager.com account. I've never used one. Hell, I regularly mock the peers of mine that do. But that's probably just because I'm bitter. I've even written a poem about it:

A haiku by ndwright

The bitter souls
plant mounting dread upon the
young, fertile future

Y'know, it was all in response to my uncle dying a month ago while I was vacationing in Venice. Do you know they have a lot of mask shops in Venice? Gondola rides sure are expensive-

. . .and so on and so forth. I don't care this much about the minutiae of strangers. I barely care this much about my own minutiae, certainly not enough to want to put it on a website for others to see.

Except this one?

Ok, now I'm just confusing myself.
posted by Ndwright at 3:19 PM on February 17, 2007


Clay Shirky, a 42-year-old professor of new media at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, who has studied these phenomena since 1993, has a theory about that response. “Whenever young people are allowed to indulge in something old people are not allowed to, it makes us bitter. What did we have? The mall and the parking lot of the 7-Eleven? It sucked to grow up when we did! And we’re mad about it now.”

This borders on the idiotic. The main reason parents don't want their kids sharing pictures of their genitals with the world and posterity is because they couldn't? Which is what this is about, not publishing vapid minutiae.
posted by scheptech at 3:25 PM on February 17, 2007


The minutiae I can do with out. But. There is always room for more compelling stories in this world. Even IF they seem to only end in one of three ways. It's how they are told that matters. Anyhow. We are put on this world to waste time in the best ways we can find.
posted by tkchrist at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


but a talented writer can make the most mundane events interesting

that's because they find something in them that isn't mundane
posted by pyramid termite at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Even IF they seem to only end in one of three ways.

Everlasting love, armageddon, or freak can-opener accident?
posted by jonmc at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Addenda to my post:

I meant younger as in "younger than the 26-year-old", not "younger to than the tweens". Also just realized I do have a facebook profile, so I'm going to have to think long and hard about this one. . .
posted by Ndwright at 3:32 PM on February 17, 2007


Didn't mean to play Captain Semantics, just to note that there are whole ranges of expression available now. Heck, here at MetaFilter ("a group weblog") we got Music already, and a podcast yesterday, and it's only a matter of time before we got our own videos done somehow locally. The community thing is a real thing, mundane or not, and talking about it becomes living it in some ways.
posted by cgc373 at 3:32 PM on February 17, 2007


. . . for some people, some of the time, qualifier, qualifier, blah blah.
posted by cgc373 at 3:33 PM on February 17, 2007


In a way we've gone from the zombiefication to zomgification of humanity.

Kattullus, this is the best thing I've ever read on Metafilter. WOW.
posted by effugas at 3:35 PM on February 17, 2007


I must admit, I share a load of personal information online because somewhere in my soul it feels like I'm making up for the fact that I'm not cool in real life. (Life is pain.)
posted by chrismear at 3:36 PM on February 17, 2007


I'm making up for the fact that I'm not cool in real life.

Just about everybody is cool in real life. They just don't know it yet.
posted by jonmc at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Nah, I'm pretty sure I'm not cool on the internet or in real life. But my therapist says that's ok.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2007


Is your therapist cool, Green Eyed Monster?
posted by cgc373 at 3:52 PM on February 17, 2007


At least we're not doing drugs and having promiscuous sex at a "concert" in New York.

*crosses arms*
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 4:02 PM on February 17, 2007


The college kids had their gawkiest years covered- most likely without permission- in family trip pages complete with rainbow stripes and awful embedded MIDI.

The tweens and young teens have had pictures online since their 6 month ultrasound, and on the day they first made it to the potty on time, hundreds of strangers said "Congratulations! Woohoo! Way to go, big girl!"

So I don't see how New York can call this a "generation gap" when a big part of their target demographic created the Internet childhood.

**runs off to read comment that daughter made on my livejournal**
posted by pernoctalian at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2007


I pretty much agree with the OP. Venal and shallow, the upcoming generation is.
posted by keswick at 4:30 PM on February 17, 2007


on the day they first made it to the potty on time, hundreds of strangers said "Congratulations! Woohoo! Way to go, big girl!"

well, I'm jealous. Yesterday, I puked in the sink and none of you fuckers said a damned thing.
posted by jonmc at 4:31 PM on February 17, 2007


Oh nooo. Zommmmmmgggggggiiiiiiiiieeeeeessssssss!
New & improved, with more zomg!
posted by miss lynnster at 4:34 PM on February 17, 2007


Mmmm, flaaaaaaaames.
posted by chrismear at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2007


Yesterday, I puked in the sink and none of you fuckers said a damned thing.

that's because you don't have a web cam
posted by pyramid termite at 4:47 PM on February 17, 2007


Yesterday, I puked in the sink and none of you fuckers said a damned thing.

It's gotta be the first time.
posted by Liv Pooleside at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2007


If I read this correctly, I'm old now?
posted by sonofslim at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2007


So a magazine writer has to think up an unmondane idea every week?
posted by semmi at 5:21 PM on February 17, 2007


As I think about it, the internet is actually kind of a mixed blessing for kids. On the one hand they can do the 'dangerous' and 'exciting' things that their youth is craving, in the relative safety of their homes. In their parents day, you would have had to get drunk, wander into someones backyard party and pick a fight over politics or something. These kids can engage in heated discussions (drunken or no) from the protection of their own bedrooms.

On the other hand, unlike their parents where the stupidity of youth was generally washed away with time and fading memories, kids today have to contend with the fact that everything they type and post could still be available in 20 years time. The silly blog about how much you hate your boyfriend, to the risqué partial nude photo you posted on a dare. All of this could follow them into their futures.

This is something unique, we haven't really seen anything like it before in history, sure cameras and camcorders preceded this. But in all likelihood, if you did something stupid and it was caught on film, only a limited number of people would see it. That has all changed.

I don't know if this is for better or worse. My guess is that kids growing up with the internet will more readily accept the permanence of their actions, since it will be all they have ever known. But if not, a lot of people are going to be embarrassed in a few years. Fortunately, they will probably not be alone.
posted by quin at 5:25 PM on February 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


Quin, I think social mores will alter to adjust for the changes in society. In the future, people will be embarrassed about the same amount as they are now.
posted by Kattullus at 5:50 PM on February 17, 2007


Clay Shirky, a 42-year-old professor of new media at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, who has studied these phenomena since 1993, has a theory about that response. “Whenever young people are allowed to indulge in something old people are not allowed to, it makes us bitter. What did we have? The mall and the parking lot of the 7-Eleven? It sucked to grow up when we did! And we’re mad about it now."

Bitter? Are you kidding? I thank god or whatever that the angst-filled journal entries, poetry, and short stories from my teenage years are where they belong: in boxes on the top shelf of my bedroom closet, not online haunting me. And from what I remember of the bullying proprensities of groups of young girls, I weep to think just how much more viscious online communication must allow it to be.

But all the narcissism and attention-getting and documenting of every minute digitally-- by the time anyone regrets it, the sheer volume of pages and pictures and material may just make the whole thing unremarkable.
posted by jokeefe at 5:53 PM on February 17, 2007


The silly blog about how much you hate your boyfriend, to the risqué partial nude photo you posted on a dare. All of this could follow them into their futures.

Not unlike those pictures and videos of naked young women, outdoors and sun lit, doing it doggie style with dudes they just met before a crowd of strangers with cameras at Lake Havasu on Spring Break.

Just like tattoos and belly button piercings, it's just the sort of thing you can only wish you will have to wave in your kids' faces when they're in their teens and you're in your forties.
See? Mom could git! it! on!

...Hey! Where are you going!?

posted by y2karl at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2007


Umm, that first girl, thinking she's all cute and all, aint.
posted by dozo at 6:28 PM on February 17, 2007


I weep to think just how much more viscious online communication must allow it to be.

viscous? just what kind of online communication are we talking about?
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on February 17, 2007


IMO, it sounds like a good chunk of the BBS world back in the early 1980s. There were plenty of people Sharing Too Much. And come to think of it, the CB Radio movement and the Ham movement before that, and the sophisticated rapid-mail system of 1880s London and... well, the printing press certainly had people sharing stuff far and wide, tracts and suchlike broadcast as far and wide as possible, and before that there was always gossip and travelling sales folk and suchlike, who would be in on the general "know."

Yup, times haven't changed much.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:59 PM on February 17, 2007



Actually, in many ways this probably reverts to the level of privacy which humans evolved having: not much.

When everyone lived in a community of 50-100 hunter-gatherers, everyone was in each other's business and everyone knew pretty quickly who was fucking whom and the kids weren't shielded from that (hard to do when you all live in a one-room dwelling).

Of course, that relied on people's memories not lingering evidence-- but who is going to have the time to look at everyone's lingering evidence? when everyone has an online sex tape, it's not going to affect most people's ability to get a job etc. As in all cases, there will be a few unlucky people whose embarrassing experience goes viral; this environment will reward luck and impulse control and technology to block cameras will probably evolve to protect those who can afford it.
posted by Maias at 7:02 PM on February 17, 2007


“When it is more important to be seen than to be talented, it is hardly surprising that the less gifted among us are willing to fart our way into the spotlight.”

Hey, he's talking about our trolls!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 PM on February 17, 2007


Umm, that first girl, thinking she's all cute and all, aint.

On top of that, the bar she works at sucks horribly.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:20 PM on February 17, 2007


I don't know if my therapist is cool, but then, I'm not paying her to be cool.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:30 PM on February 17, 2007


I can't really identify with my generation. I've never liked all that self-importance - people acting like so many others care about everything they do. Sure, there'll be a worthwhile reading or video once in awhile, but considering the amount of people publicly logging their lives, it seems like trying to find a diamond in your backyard.

Anyways, who is going to bother digging through 25+ years of writing/videos/pictures/other media? Are they just going to spend the latter years of their life doing nothing but reminiscing on the former years?
posted by god particle at 8:10 PM on February 17, 2007


Not unlike those pictures and videos of naked young women, outdoors and sun lit, doing it doggie style with dudes they just met before a crowd of strangers with cameras at Lake Havasu on Spring Break.

Link?
posted by stinkycheese at 8:24 PM on February 17, 2007


god particle, what you're seeing here is the ultimate in disposable culture ... no one in their right mind is going to search through the huge trash pile of what your generation has left online to find out what individual members have done ... even those who did the deeds will shove them into a metaphorical closet and only look at them when the fear of old age and the need for nostalgia creep over them some booze filled night ...

this has always been the trouble with the big brother scenario ... no one has time to watch everyone ... no one has time to look at everything everyone has done 5 or 10 years ago on youtube ... it may be fascinating material for alien anthropologists someday, but it certainly isn't going to mean anything to us in 20 years, especially when by then you'll be able to fake anyone doing anything as realistically as possible ... wait until photoshop level shenanigans are possible with video

but, as always, the real fear isn't that we'll be noticed ... that we'll have substance in the eyes of the world ... it's that we won't be noticed and we are mere motes of dust floating around our years until we leave
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 PM on February 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


“To me, or to a lot of people, it’s like, why go to a party if you’re not going to get your picture taken?”

This is how I know I don't belong with these people.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:40 PM on February 17, 2007


when everyone has an online sex tape, it's not going to affect most people's ability to get a job etc.

Problem is most, by far, won't have an online sex tape. Only a few will get caught because it's new; once old news people will figure out how to avoid getting caught that way.

Employers now, today already, use something called a "search engine" to find anything you've left online - the size of the mountain doesn't matter, it's not like they have to go through the web one page at time.

So no, sorry but nudie shots of yourself aren't going to get lost in the mountain of garbage, and no - people aren't going to cease caring at some point either unless you think they're going stop being obsessed by sex, or lose interest in wrecking their competitors careers, or in digging up dirt for sale to the media or for any number of other purposes such as influencing the course of child custody hearings.

And then there's just everyday human stupidity; we all know there's a best man out there right now thinking of playing a little prank by running that Lake Havasu video at the wedding...
posted by scheptech at 9:45 PM on February 17, 2007


Employers now, today already, use something called a "search engine" to find anything you've left online

videos? photos? ... if they're not associated with someone's real name, employers or anyone else are going to have a hard time finding stuff like that as face based video and photo search isn't a reality

one strategy people will follow is plausible deniability ... "yes, it kind of looks like her, but she called herself muddpuppy and who knows if it's really her or not"

i think the whole "employer is researching you on the web" is more urban myth than reality, as once faced with 5 to 10 pages of useless or inconclusive search results, most employers would have to be truly obsessed to continue ... we hear about the few cases where an employer did it ... we never hear about the cases where an employer tried and came up with nothing or didn't even bother in the first place
posted by pyramid termite at 10:12 PM on February 17, 2007


i think the whole "employer is researching you on the web" is more urban myth than reality

It costs companies plenty to make hiring mistakes, they're motivated. One of the cheapest things they can do to narrow the field is pay someone to spend a couple hours searching for you.

Of course the higher up the economic food chain you go the more motivated they'll be. Applying to drive a forklift? Maybe not so much. Going for a partnership in a legal firm or going into politics? Your online history better be squeaky clean. And not just clean but positive and matching up accurately with what you've stated in your resume.

Do I like this? No, but that's where we're headed.
posted by scheptech at 10:50 PM on February 17, 2007


no one has time to look at everything everyone has done 5 or 10 years ago on youtube

Yes, we've certainly never seen instances where MeTa users have gone over the deep end and dug up dirt on others' real lives, eh?

Webstalking is reality.

As for companies filtering their employees by their past webescades? I doubt boobies, doobies, and mudfights are going to stand out from the crowd.

In fact, it may be that this public-private lifestyle is what it takes to level the playing field: what's normal might become self-evident. It's the ultimate Masters and Johnson report.

Maybe our morality laws will finally be updated to reflect reality.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 PM on February 17, 2007


god particle : Are they just going to spend the latter years of their life doing nothing but reminiscing on the former years?

Perhaps my snark meter is miscalibrated, but how would this be considered a 'new' thing?

pyramid termite : no one has time to watch everyone ... no one has time to look at everything everyone has done 5 or 10 years ago on youtube

No argument. But the classic fear here is that one day machine intelligence will supplant our need to be personally involved in these kinds of searches. The idea that you can get your computer/ robot/ AI/ zombic slave to process all that data might seem like a far flung dream. But then, so did personal computers 40 years ago. We should never assume that technology won't be there one day to make all these kinds of things possible.

especially when by then you'll be able to fake anyone doing anything as realistically as possible ... wait until photoshop level shenanigans are possible with video

Having used Final Cut Pro and After Effects, and hell, even Photoshop on video frames, I'd suggest that those days are closer than most people would imagine. You speak the truth here. But I suspect that the savvy will always question what they see. Or at least I hope they will.

but, as always, the real fear isn't that we'll be noticed ... that we'll have substance in the eyes of the world ... it's that we won't be noticed and we are mere motes of dust floating around our years until we leave


Nicely said. And not unlike Warhol's suggestion of 15 minutes of fame updated for our brave new world. Your last sentence has a nice kind of poignancy that rings true to me.
posted by quin at 11:23 PM on February 17, 2007


just what kind of online communication are we talking about?

Snerk. Okay, okay, I'll spell check next time.

(Best wishes with glorious unemployment, btw. Grab with both hands and run, I say.)
posted by jokeefe at 11:26 PM on February 17, 2007


no one has time to look at everything everyone has done 5 or 10 years ago on youtube

Certainly not; but plenty of people have time to look at a lot of what specific people have done. And the beauty and terror of improving information structure and search is that it's increasingly easy to needle-and-haystack these things.
posted by cortex at 11:28 PM on February 17, 2007


I care less about the supposed moral issues here and more about the fact that 95% of this stuff is far too stupid for anyone to want to watch.

To me the most "interesting" thing about YouTube, MySpace and such and such is the total lack of writing ability exhibited by posters and commenters. And by "writing ability" I mean not creativity, but the capacity to form complete sentences and use proper spelling and grammar (with only a relatively few errors).

Of course, to be entirely fair, many of the comments I'm referring to would still indicate massive stupidity even if they were written in semi-proper English.
posted by Target Practice at 12:58 AM on February 18, 2007


The main reason parents don't want their kids sharing pictures of their genitals with the world and posterity is because they couldn't?


Why are some people so afraid of others seeing their genitalia?
posted by Human Flesh at 2:28 AM on February 18, 2007


Oooh, when I grow up I want to pick a few outlier points and describe an entire generation in terms of them too!!
posted by !Jim at 2:47 AM on February 18, 2007


One bizarre offshoot of this phenomenon is the effect that it has on the development of old-school artistic skills, like drawing, or playing the guitar.

I'm a digital artist, and probably not even a very good one. I have a small fanbase at DeviantArt of (mostly) younger fans, and sometimes their impatience confounds me.

It's a cliche, but it's true -- they have grown up in a world of instant gratification that has never before existed in history. They want everything now.

See, sometimes these kids will ask for drawing tips. They want me to boil down the secrets of drawing into five easy steps that i can send them over AIM. All i can tell them is "never listen to old art teachers," "copy the drawings of real artists," and "practice for years."

Then, these kids will go make their first few drawings, and seem surprised that they look like crap. Of course they do. Heck, i'm barely competant as an artist, and it took me twenty years to get this way.

Kids, if you really want to learn to draw, here's what you do -- find a way to go back in time, and grow up in the '80s. There, you will not have a computer or the internet or an iPod. You will have five channels of television, 12 audiocassettes of music to listen to, and a few primitive videogames. You will be so fucking BORED most of the time that you will draw for hours just to have something to do....

That's the only way that i learned. And like i said, i'm not even that good. It worries me -- with so much instant stuff at their disposal, why would today's teen practice figure drawing, or learning the basic chords and arpeggios, like our generation did?
posted by ELF Radio at 3:15 AM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just read that from a 15-year-old's point of view, and that article isn't very surprising. Moreover, it's kind of patronizing. Saying "kids today" is like saying "adults today" or "37-year-olds today" in the sense that it overgeneralizes and stereotypes before you even complete your sentence. I'm 15, I have facebook, and I like to talk to my friends on MSN.
Most of the people I know don't use stupid contractions instead of words, such as u, r, l8er, omg, and bff. Not that I'm claiming they don't exist- obviously, there's an abundance of astoundingly unintelligent idiots who "don't have time" to spell correctly.
Facebook, honestly, is great. I grew up in Toronto and a few months ago I moved to Israel, and were it not for Facebook and MSN, i doubt I'd be in close contact with my friends. Because half-hour phone calls across the globe are a lot more expensive than half-hour MSN conversations, or Facebook wall posts.
I don't have a blog of my own, but I frequent some of my friend's blogs for the sake of knowing what's going on in their lives. And I like looking at and sharing photos with my friends!
The internet has simply made all these things easier and cheaper, but definately not more common. In the era of the 80's and 90's, every TV sitcom would deal with the topic of teenage girls running their parents phone bill to hundreds of dollars. Everyone had photo albums of camp or of that awesome weekend with friends at Niagara.
I dunno. I guess I can understand what this article is trying to say. But as interesting as it may be to read, I'm never going to give up my Facebook!
posted by alona at 3:54 AM on February 18, 2007


This is why we need to bring back the draft and get those freakazoids into the service to give them some discimpline and a sense of serving their nation....kids todayh areselfish,k celf centered, lazy, spendthrifts, moraless, indecent, dirtymouthed, and obnoxious. There ought to be special hours where they are not allowed in large malls, and the driving age should be raised to 23.
posted by Postroad at 3:59 AM on February 18, 2007


Ahhhh! I just saw ELF radio's comment and HAD to post more. See above post where I establish myself as a 15-year-old? I play piano and I have since I was 5. And I'm a computer geek trying to learn basic programming. One of my best friends, she draws superb figures. Another of my best friends is a photographer with her own small fan base on deviantART. I have a good friend who practices the fine skill of magic tricks and has already begun performing.
In short, just because we have the Internet, doesn't mean we don't have the time or patience for anything else.
posted by alona at 4:01 AM on February 18, 2007


Yes, we've certainly never seen instances where MeTa users have gone over the deep end and dug up dirt on others' real lives, eh?

there's a fallacy involved here ... we always hear about the cases where someone dug for dirt, found some and spews it all over the net

we never hear about the cases where people dug and didn't find anything or didn't bother digging in the first place

but if some of you want to go on living as if everything you've ever done online is being monitored by all your future employers, spouses, etc etc, then go ahead ... just remember that 1) the system we're always complaining about will in effect have won 2) you're substituting your fellow human beings for that omnipresent god that was said to follow you around and watch everything you do

now THAT'S ironic
posted by pyramid termite at 6:27 AM on February 18, 2007


it is hardly surprising that the less gifted among us are willing to fart our way into the spotlight.

What if you're gifted at farting?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:20 AM on February 18, 2007


I would say the upshot to this is that its easier for people to blackmail future politicians, but maybe this whole "not-worrying-about-what-people-know-about-you" thing will seep into politics, and by then, people won't give a damn.
posted by god particle at 7:27 AM on February 18, 2007


My life was public in the sixties; I wouldn't be surprised if I have an FBI file because of participation in this and that. The difference was that only a few people knew about that stuff, and you could be blackmailed. The idea of being ruined by public disclosure was alive; there was a kid who disappeared in high school because (we whispered)

I had a photographer who took pix of me naked try to blackmail/bully me into posing again, because back then appearing naked in a picture could destroy you, but even then I knew the value of being completely public--I told my step-dad and mom and we all confronted the SOB.

So I'm 55 and online. So big deal. The older I get, the more I realize you have no control over your privacy or your history unless you are willing to admit who you are.

Yeah, there's stuff I won't put online. My LJ is friends-locked. My Vox blog is carefully anonymous. My website is content-driven and reveals only what I think is important. I took down my Blogger teaching journal because parents are paranoid. But I don't have the illusion that I can be safe in the non-virtual world, either.
posted by Peach at 9:04 AM on February 18, 2007


no one in their right mind is going to search through the huge trash pile of what your generation has left online to find out what individual members have done

Like it's that hard to google somebody?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:24 AM on February 18, 2007


I don't think I agree with this reporter's conclusion. I'm 20, and yes, I have a lot of stuff online -- more than one LJ, some pictures, and accounts everywhere -- but it's not because of security cameras or courtesy cards or EZPasses. I'm careful about not linking my name or face to my accounts, or my accounts to each other, or my face or any identifying marks to anything I wouldn't want my mom to see. I have different accounts with different levels of cover -- I wouldn't be traumatized if someone figured out "booksandlibretti" is me, and there have been hints to that effect, but there are other accounts (not on MeFi) you could never connect to me. Be careful about identity and privacy, and the internet is great. However, if you're the kind of person who revels in drama for drama's sake, or have that kind of friends, the internet will help you create more drama.

If you Google my real name, there are a ton of false hits -- someone who wrote a book in Swedish (my name isn't Swedish), someone who believed the world would end in 1999 -- but Google doesn't link any of my accounts, anywhere, to my real name, because I've been pretty careful about it. If you sift through 20+ pages of false hits, you find about five references to the real me -- old newspaper articles saying I received X award ten years ago. Even if you refine the search with terms like my school, it's the same deal. The internet and me -- we're cool.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:50 AM on February 18, 2007


In fact, it may be that this public-private lifestyle is what it takes to level the playing field: what's normal might become self-evident. It's the ultimate Masters and Johnson report.

and by then, people won't give a damn.

Many of the behaviors and attitudes of the current generation are identical to every one that's gone before, only this time, some of them are getting sucked in by new technology to recording the same crazy behavior that most people decide to leave behind when they grow up. They'll want to too, but won't be able to in some cases.

The next generation will learn to avoid their parents mistakes, as always, and laugh at how naive some of them were about giving up to the world their basic right to privacy so easily.

Meanwhile:
Employers snoop on Facebook
Internet content is timeless
Volunteers and Technology
posted by scheptech at 10:09 AM on February 18, 2007


Alona.

Cool. I do tend to overgeneralize when i'm drunk.
posted by ELF Radio at 12:23 PM on February 18, 2007


I think pyramid termite nailed it. We're in the waning days of a gold rush for untapped attention. Normally mediocre people were briefly able to achieve widespread notoriety because their medium was underexploited. Now that a near total saturation has been achieved, only those with an aptitude for this brand of performance will achieve even local recognition.

End result: nobody cares that you're naked on the internet, at least not on the internet. Give it a few years and even the few real world outposts of now outmoded decorum (employers) will be similarly blase, out of necessity if nothing else.

Curiously enough, the only people who want privacy are those who, against all reason, think they still have something worth hiding.
posted by Ictus at 5:46 PM on February 18, 2007


It's not that it's worth hiding, it's that it's not worth sharing. Really, time spent watching me naked would be time better spent walking. Go for a walk instead.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:35 PM on February 18, 2007


End result: nobody cares that you're naked on the internet, at least not on the internet.

Obviously you weren't here when iconomy had a nude picture of herself on her user page. Now, them were the days...
posted by y2karl at 8:19 PM on February 18, 2007


I couldn't get on Facebook back in the day as my college email address had a spam-filtration problem and became worse than useless. Also, by the time I graduated, I forgot the password. Anyhow, I hadn't bothered making a profile now that it's open until I read this article and I'd like to say that HOLY SHIT the interface is so much better than MySpace.

MySpace hurts my soul.

And yet, I have found so many lost old friends from High School via MySpace, people who I haven't spoken to in at least eight years! It's incredible. What do you have old farts have to say to that? How on earth did you ever find anyone with whom you'd lost contact? What brought you the joy of a serendipitous message from someone you'd been thinking of, but hadn't actually spoken to, in nearly a decade?

Anyhow. I guess as I'm 25 and I've been online since I was 14, this article describes me pretty well. To a point. Yes, I've had a livejournal for years - but I'm on my third account. The other two were deleted for being just too freaking embarrassing to look back on. I don't post anything personal online anymore, not because I care about people seeing it, but because Christ, in six months even I'm not going to want to hear my own whining. I have stacks of paper journals in my mother's house from high school and I can't bear to read them, nor can I bear to burn them. I'll probably burn them as soon as I have kids though because I can't bear the thought of anyone ELSE reading that tripe. I don't want a bridge to my younger self. I can hardly stand myself NOW. When I die, I don't want people reading my diaries and constructing a view of me from my most awkward moments, I'd rather be an enigma.

I also did a mass-purge of overly personal information when I was working as a preschool teacher. There's nothing like "Holy Crap, what if my employer finds this?" to make you not want to tell the world about how drunk you were last night. And even if you don't care about your boss seeing you nekkid, when you're a teacher and you think about the parents of your class seeing that crap... well, it's just too mortifying to even imagine.

I'm a little more relaxed now that I work with coffee, but still, I serve coffee for a gigantic corporation. I don't say much online that could really get dicey in the workplace. And if I ever wanted to find another job? I fully believe that I would be googled during the application process. I know a few people who are in positions that involve hiring, and they all admit to doing it.

I do have one secret weapon, but it's not a very good or practical one. My legal last name and the one I use personally and artistically don't match. To find me online at all, you have to know which name to use. Not that it's particularly difficult, but it's something. You have to at least be motivated enough to figure it out before you can hit the pay dirt of my somewhat interesting artistic website and my excessively boring MySpace profile.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:27 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's an interesting data point, from a study on cell phone gossiping: "Texting helps teenagers (and some adult males) to overcome awkwardness and inhibitions and to develop social and communication skills – they communicate with more people, and more frequently, than they did before mobiles."
posted by Kattullus at 8:56 AM on February 19, 2007


Interesting article, y2karl.

Erving Goffman, analyzing ordinary (face-to-face) social interactions, used a metaphor drawn from theater: a doctor interacting with a patient will behave differently from a person who's hanging out with friends, or a person who's attending a funeral, even if it's the same individual in all three situations. In each situation, the same individual is playing a different role. Goffman describes each social situation as having a "front-stage" area (where the individual is expected to play their proper role) and a "back-stage" area (where the individual can rest and prepare for their role).

The downside of putting too much of your life on the Internet is that you're reducing your backstage area. And with a smaller and smaller backstage area, you'll have less and less time to prepare for your on-stage performance, making it more improvised and amateurish. That might be okay for the role of "funeral mourner," but maybe not for "doctor" or "President."

A relevant quote (from The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959):
The past life and current round of activity of a given performer typically contain at least a few facts which, if introduced during the performance, would discredit or at least weaken the claims about self that the performer was attempting to project as part of the definition of the situation. These facts may involve well-kept dark secrets or negative-valued characteristics that everyone can see but no one refers to. When such facts are introduced, embarrassment is the usual result. ...
Television has already had a major impact in reducing the backstage and making on-stage performances more gaffe-prone, as Joshua Meyrowitz (a student of Neil Postman) pointed out in No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior (1984). For example, here's his comments on how television has reduced parental authority. An example from Canadian politics.

A consistent pitfall I've noticed with computer-mediated communication is that there's a kind of audience-underestimation bias: you think your audience is much smaller than it actually is, so when you're communicating you have a greater sense of privacy and anonymity than you actually do. (Usually summarized as a guideline: don't put anything into e-mail or on the Internet that you wouldn't want to appear on the front page of the newspaper.)

The article's comparison to celebrities (who have almost no privacy) is an apt one.

So why are young people giving up their privacy voluntarily? Probably for the same reason that all of us are here, posting on MetaFilter: we enjoy social interaction. What's novel is the fact that this new form of social interaction is not just taking place in public, it's all being monitored and recorded.
posted by russilwvong at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Why are some people so afraid of others seeing their genitalia?

I don't want to responsible for mass erotomania.

I wouldn't be surprised if I have an FBI file because of participation in this and that.

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if everybody did.
posted by jonmc at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2007


Until we've got a practical and widespread means of telepathy, humans have fundamental privacy.

Even after that point, we'll probably take it back.

I remain convinced that if we could divine a good account of the evolution of the human mind, it would mostly be a story about the tension between privacy and community. It's that tension -- that ability to instantly and individually mutate the groupthink and inject it back into the mix -- that really gives us our power to dominate the natural world so effectively.
posted by lodurr at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Great article! I just emailed this to my parents.
posted by Zephyrial at 7:46 AM on February 23, 2007


Like it's that hard to google somebody?
posted by Afroblanco


I thought it was only 90 year old grandmothers who thought googling someone brought up a person's entire past. That's cute.
posted by justgary at 10:32 PM on February 27, 2007


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