Just look at the state of my lawn
December 5, 2015 9:39 AM   Subscribe

 
A squat, taupe monolith flanked by parking lots

This is my Tinder profile.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:45 AM on December 5, 2015 [53 favorites]


Coming up, the generation that doesn't remember life when you could go outside and see animals.

(Since I love teens using the latest technology to confound adults, I love the capture apps, the ones that look like calculators and such, except if y enter in the right keys it opens a hidden archive or hidden messages. Street, uses, finds, etc)!
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


"what she calls the Fandom"

Oh come the hell on. Fandoms have existed for decades. There's no need for that soft-SF capitalization.

I'm reminded of something I read in an old yearbook from the '20s. It was a women's college yearbook, so it featured stories from or about students who had dropped out to get married and have children. The writer, herself born around 1900, was talking about how strange it was that her friend's new baby's first memories would be of his mother in a Cadillac, smoking a cigarette! A driving, smoking woman! Who could imagine what that child's inner life could possibly look like!
posted by Countess Elena at 9:47 AM on December 5, 2015 [36 favorites]


It's almost as if the trauma of the rapidly accelerating change of the 20th century onward hasn't had time to heal!
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 AM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Countess Elena is exactly right. In twenty years, some of the people profiled in this article will be writing their own articles about how unprecedented and baffling the teenagers of 2035 are.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:52 AM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I thought this article was even-handed, even charitable. Not seeing the technophobia, really. Thanks for sharing, infini.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 9:56 AM on December 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


My kids are 12 and 15. Both have iPhones.

The oldest is big into Snapchat and Instagram and spends the first 20 minutes of just about every morning lying in bed using her phone to connect with her friends. The youngest is more introverted and prefers games, texting with a couple of close friends, and a wee bit of Instagram. She'll watch as much Netflix as we'll let her, with a heavy focus on the worlds of Marvel and DC.

They both text. A lot. Neither of them spends any real time at all on phone calls.

I wish both of them would go outside more, and sit around less. They both have good grades. They both struggle with relationships of all kinds & worry a good bit about what to wear.

The oldest (10th grade) thinks & worries about college more and more. And shows little interest in getting a driver's license.

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
posted by Frayed Knot at 10:03 AM on December 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh hey, they namedropped WinDirStat. One of my favorite utility programs.

Netbooks were becoming a thing by my last year of high school, so I got an Eee PC and spend class half taking notes with it, half playing Pokémon on an emulator. (An emulator! It was so cool to not need separate specialized hardware for everything.)

Now laptops and tablets are routinely used in class, and even handed out by some schools just like textbooks. I wonder what changes will surprise and bemuse the next generation. Maybe attending school via telepresence?
posted by Rangi at 10:06 AM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


how unprecedented and baffling the teenagers of 2035

Ugh, these kids these days with their dog-meat and their Nuka-colas.
posted by Fizz at 10:07 AM on December 5, 2015 [33 favorites]


I'm almost 35 and I just prefer NOT to remember life before smartphones. I can certainly talk about how I had to dial in to Compuserve and we were charged hourly for that when I was a teenager. I can talk about having a non-networked computer as a child. (We got a computer early so I can't talk about life without one because it arrived when I was two or three years old.) But... why would I romanticize that? Without a smartphone or at least ever-present internet access, I turn into my grandmother, who spent her entire life being (mostly gently) picked on for always being late to everything, for putting food in the oven and forgetting it was there. Lonely because the friends of her youth were all far away.

I walked uphill both ways in the snow and it was terrible and why are we talking like that was a better thing? It wasn't character building, it was just cold! Look at all this great stuff we have now. When I was a kid, my parents couldn't afford enough hours online for me to actually be on for the.... Friday or Saturday night, I forget which, chat room meetings of my Pern fan group. If I was twenty years older, I wouldn't have been able to meet those people at all. My dad, who introduced me to sci-fi, always struggled to find friends who liked what he liked. I have never been friendless, not since I was fourteen. Today's teenagers are better able to integrate that with existing in the real world because the network fits in their pockets.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to catching up on my Tumblr dash before spending the afternoon messaging with my friends while I do housework. I love the future.
posted by Sequence at 10:08 AM on December 5, 2015 [44 favorites]


He wears tortoiseshell glasses and is built like he could hit a ball hard.

Was it a dark and stormy night also?
posted by Splunge at 10:08 AM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


When he types, he types evenly—none of that hinky freeze-pause-backspace thing that every adult with a hint of self-consciousness does when typing in front of anyone else.

This is ... exactly the opposite of my experiences with students age 16-25: only a handful of them can touch-type on a laptop keyboard, and they are consistently blown away by my own typing speed and the fact thatI don't have to look at the keyboard. I'm willing to believe that it's changing again, but kind of skeptical that Zac is representative.

The school has existed on precisely this spot of land since 1963.

Um...*squints at writer*

"Of course there were goofballs ten years ago, but I don't think the ratio was as high," the teacher, Jeff Smith, says afterward. He's taught in this district for twenty-four years. "A video game, you get killed or whatever, you push reset. You can reset a thousand times. For some of this stuff, there's no reset button, and when something doesn't work, they're over it."

It's cool how my generation was magically impervious to this, despite having videogames as formative memories, but somehow this generation doesn't know that they can't respawn to get higher grades.

But this is the passage that really cracked me up:

After Zac turns the doorknob of Room 113 and takes his seat in Japanese III, he reaches into his shoulder bag, pushes aside his black iPhone 5S and Nintendo 3DS XL, and pulls out his Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet with purple detachable keyboard, which he props up on his desk using its kickstand. By touching a white and purple icon on his screen, he opens Microsoft OneNote, a program in which each of his classes is separated into digital journals and then into digital color-coded tabs for greater specificity. And then, without a piece of paper in sight and before an adult has said a word, he begins to learn.

She shakes her head, ignores her Samsung SmartTV, Canon 500D printer, and iPhone 6s, and manipulates the flat black keys of her El Capitan Macbook Pro. By moving her thumb on a rectangular touchpad, she clicks on Post Comment. And then, without any other humans in sight and minus any spoken words, she begins to communicate.

(Seriously, it reads like science fiction about humans written for aliens, or possibly corporate sponsors.)
posted by wintersweet at 10:08 AM on December 5, 2015 [86 favorites]


I have to be honest, I'm glad I didn't grow up with a smartphone, and at 35, I prefer not to use my phone when I'm having interactions with other humans.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:09 AM on December 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


Not seeing the technophobia, really.

It's not technophobia really, so much as the repetition of an ancient canard that this time change is unprecedented, and everything will be different.

"Playing with apps while trying to do this would only distract him, Anthony says. It's an obvious point but not one you expect from a high school student in 2015."

Stuff like that. Pretending that there has been a fundamental shift in the way that people understand the world. Yes, there is more task-switching now, but the idea that we should be surprised that there are still intelligent young people who are serious about their studies is silly, and it's the sort of sweeping assumption that makes the article less good and more irritating. It's still got some interesting stuff in there, but it would be better if it stuck more to the specifics and didn't get so carried away with generalities.
posted by howfar at 10:13 AM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


What needs some thopught. We can alwaysw tun to this or that age group and find that they are old enough to remember something or, the reverse, were born not knowing something from the recent past. But then technology is speeding up at an ever increasing pace, so that what is now old is still for some fairly new...Think of jet military fighter planes...how long back before planes used props? How long before no planes worth noting? Guns? Cars? air conditioning? and in medical discoveries and improvements? The pace quickens. We now talk robots doing so much. How far back did that seem a possible reality. Finally: driverless cars.
posted by Postroad at 10:21 AM on December 5, 2015


"what she calls the Fandom"

Oh come the hell on. Fandoms have existed for decades.
It has, but it's different now, and I say that as someone that time in Usenet fandom in the mid 90s. The sheer volume of what's out there, the number of other fans interacted with, the frequency with which it updates, being more visual than text, and the level of interaction with the focus have all gone up massively.
posted by Candleman at 10:23 AM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I see what you're saying, howfar. I guess I should also mention that I teach college students, so I'm pretty much surrounded by young adults five days a week, and the observations of the article were largely in line with my experience. I've taught since the early 2000s, so I've been able to observe these changes as they've unfolded. And while the rise in, say, diagnosing ADHD seems real, I'm not one of those "kids these days!" types catastrophizing technological changes in how we access information and interact with one another. But there have been real, demonstrable changes, and it's been fascinating to watch.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 10:29 AM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


The generation that has never tasted seafood.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:39 AM on December 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Evolution is tough to believe, as there's a huge gap in the fossil record where thinkpieces about those dang cro magnons should be.

"Why are h. sapiens so obsessed with tools?"
"Holding dead animals over fire: The dangerous new food trend"
"Why your kids want to hunt and gather instead of buying a home."
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:41 AM on December 5, 2015 [21 favorites]


The one thing that seems like a genuine change is that, thanks to technology, high school is no longer the world of Jane Austen. I'm sure somebody else will remember this mefi comment -- about how the drama of both high school and Jane Austen comes from sharply constrained social options, the near-impossibility of escape, arcane social rules, the unshakeability of reputation, etc. But the internet does make it way more possible to have a completely alternate social life and to opt out of the mainstream high school one. for me in the 80's, this only could happen at summer camp.

And your place in the high school hierarchy was so formative to your personality. At age (almost) 46, it is still blindingly obvious who among my neighbors placed where in the hierarchy, and we've all been out of HS for 25+ years. Maybe that won't be the case when the current crop of high schoolers are in their 40's.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:45 AM on December 5, 2015 [23 favorites]


Born smack in the middle of Gen X, 1969, so I grew up in the interalia, I guess? of analog and digital. When I was very small, I remember my aunt had a friend whose BF had Pong on his TV, and I played it. He also had a kit to build his own computer to connect to his TV that I was never to touch. Maybe I was 4? Already there was that reach, and we were relatively poor people by comparison.

When I was 6, I went on a school field trip to see the computer room of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. Mrs. Macek knew a guy and thought we might like to see it. The visit is seared in my memory; how big the room seemed, and how busy. There was a lot of energy going through that space. I thought of The Jetsons, and "Wow, the future is here!"

Once I got my film jobs as an adult 20 years later in the 90s, I wondered how productions got script changes or documents of any type to up to 200 people every day without computers! Can you imagine? Carbon copies!? Yikes!

It blows my mind a little bit to think of all the huge tape disc spinning and scads of paper punching that I saw going on in 1975 used less memory and had less functionality than even one segment of the app I'm producing and QAing on my iPhone 5s right now for one of my biggest tourist attraction clients. Then again, I would have never imagined that I would be supervising the development of any apps. Or that "apps", smartphones like the kind we have now, responsive websites, etc. would exist. And here we are.

I was watching an early talkie picture from 1929 recently (on my iPad!), and I was amused how so many of the actors in it had to have been born during the time of the US Reconstruction - some even before the Civil War! - but were just as with it as the young folks in their clothing, hairstyles, attitudes, and ability to use the then-new tech.

I'm totally excited to see what comes next, in the same way 6 year old me was thrilled by the machines in that room in Milwaukee so long ago. Surely Zac has seen something out there that makes him feel the way I felt in 1975, and in that I think people are on the same lawn.
posted by droplet at 10:46 AM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Hm, having spent a lot of hours waiting for buses, sometimes in unsuitable conditions for reading, I think smartphones are pretty nifty. You can communicate with friends, listen to music without carrying a brick, read, play games or post on MeFi on a break.

Better than staring at a lamppost for 30 minutes until the bloody bus arrives.
posted by ersatz at 10:48 AM on December 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


My (9-year-old) son would spend all day watching other people open packages of Pokemon cards on YouTube if I let him. When I was a kid, my grandparents would kick me out of the house and tell me to find something to do outside. If the differences between those two experiences of childhood don't lead to some pretty serious differences in developmental outcomes, it'd be a pretty surprising result to me. For one thing, my son (who we think probably inherited my ADD and definitely suffers more from its symptoms the more screen time he gets) rarely gets bored enough to need to use his own imagination to entertain himself. He's got great potential when it comes to being imaginative, but the cultural environment for encouraging him to actually spend long periods of time cultivating difficult skills and exercising his own imaginative powers is pretty impoverished if we don't take an active role in making him actually do stuff for himself every now and then. Left to his own devices, he'd just keep watching other people do stuff, complaining miserably about being no good at doing anything himself (his latest habit).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:54 AM on December 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Zac is clearing space on his computer's hard drive, using a program called WinDirStat that looks like a boring version of Candy Crush—deftly, quietly, he moves small colored squares around to clean up the drive.

App Idea: ENDER'S DEFRAG
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:02 AM on December 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


My online experience started when I was in my 30's. I was probably close to 40 before I had a cell phone, and I was nearly 50 when I got my first smartphone. I sure as hell do remember the days before, and they hold no rosy glow of nostalgia for me.

Better than staring at a lamppost for 30 minutes until the bloody bus arrives.

Oh yeah, and I was in a new city when I got my first smartphone; the public-transportation app that told me what buses to take to get where and when they'd be at the bus stop (and where the bus stops even were) was an absolute god-send, on top of being my own portable music player/book reader/internet browser in the bargain.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:02 AM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


rarely gets bored enough to need to use his own imagination to entertain himself.

Yeah, I think this is one of the problems we are already seeing in high schools and colleges. Kids can't think/problem solve on their own. Helicopter parenting probably makes it worse, but the screen time is not great, Bob.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:05 AM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


My big concern about smartphones is that they're really powerful at getting rid of boredom. Probably too powerful.

Having stimulation and distraction always available bypasses a really common feeling. Maybe life is better without boredom and with more little, fleeting amusements, but I'm not sure I want to be that guinea pig, especially since it does so much to take me away from my thoughts and the moment. I'm worried it takes away the creativity and motivation that can sprout from boredom and anxiety.

I recently cancelled my data plan, and it's been a really positive change. Were I in the market for a new phone, I'd probably just get a TracFone and carry around my netbook more if I really needed to do something online in public.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:11 AM on December 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


Left to his own devices, he'd just keep watching other people do stuff, complaining miserably about being no good at doing anything himself (his latest habit).

Before it was YouTube it was videogames, before that it was TV, before that the movies and pop records and the wireless. We've had at least 70 years of things making our children lazy and distracted.

Which isn't to dismiss the idea that there are profound social and personal changes linked to the development of technology, merely to note that we've been living in a state of massive technological upheaval for a couple of hundred years, and in a culture dominated by consumerist entertainment since the 1960s at least. There are challenges, including challenges for parents, undeniably, but they aren't, I would suggest, entirely unprecedented.
posted by howfar at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


howfar, the difference being that children walk around with smartphones, now. They weren't walking around with personal televisions in their classrooms.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:16 AM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


I happened across a photo online of a photocopy machine with a pile of spaghetti on the glass; I guess somebody needed to copy some spaghetti. Random, but funny; my daughter was nearby so I called her over to see it. Her response: "What is that, like a scanner or something?"

One day all this will be yours--the lawn, the sign saying to get off it...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:22 AM on December 5, 2015


"Bart: Damn TV, you've ruined my imagination, just like you've ruined my ability to... uh... (takes out portable TV)"

From 1994.
posted by The Whelk at 11:23 AM on December 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm kind of bitter that just because I'm old I don't get hipster cred for things like knowing how to write cursive and use a rotary dial phone.

But I comfort myself with the knowledge that the modern youths of today are so sorely unprepared for the post-apocalyptic world of tomorrow. So I'm biding my time. I'll be back on top again when the power grids go dark, just you wait and see.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


Over one shoulder he carries a slim forest-green and tan messenger bag that would have been social suicide in 1997.

I thought messenger bags were quite stylish then and all the kids are two-strapping their backpacks now.
posted by sourwookie at 11:27 AM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been thinking of an AskMeFi on what tech there'll be 50, 75, 100 years from now that would astound us, and profoundly change the experiences of life.

Because it is so odd to me to think that as a kid/young adult I never imagined Google or twitter or tablets or AmazonPrime or taking vids and instantly showing them to anyone else who also had a little pocket device.

(On the flip side, I get frustrated that people look at me and think "Olde" / doesn't get it because I didnt grow up with it. This is particularly bad because I do communications for a living.)

But I am puzzled by (younger) people who sometimes seem to be experiencing life ONLY through their device. I hardly have ANY pictures of my college years cos I probably didnt have a camera with me. Imagine a college student today who doesnt have 5000 selfies. And lately, I've sometimes found myself nostalgic for those days when I wasn't tethered SO MUCH to info 24/7. When I just lived.
posted by NorthernLite at 11:28 AM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Kids can't think/problem solve on their own.

This is literally a thing that has been said about every generation, though. Is this just a thing people feel, or is there actual evidence that this is a) getting worse, and b) because of screen time? Because the quality of public schooling has also become a serious problem, and that's not related to screen time at all. Problem solving on your own is not exactly an educational priority when teachers are being measured according to your standardized test scores. Nor is it necessarily something that many people of my parents' generation are particularly good at, to judge from the lack of any kind of common sense or ability to deal with issues on their own that I see in my accounting clients at work. They won't go look up how to do something; they'll just do it wrong and wait for me to fix it at the end of the year, and then bitch that their bills are too high.

People are very quick to blame whatever's new for whatever problems they see in the world, but I'm waiting to see the evidence that it's causative. Boredom breeds creativity, people say, except we don't exactly have a huge number of painters and novelists among the retiree population, do we? My grandmother watches television, not because she likes television, but because she has hours in the day to fill. And she reads novels. Not great novels, not even particularly good novels. The reading has not inspired her to write, or caused her to be a better critical thinker in any discernable way, or any of that. Not that she's not a smart woman. But we're neither seeing MIT admitting a ton of complete idiots in recent classes, nor seeing older generations doing anything particularly remarkable across the board. If you cherry pick your examples, you can make Kids These Days look particularly dumb, but you can find just as many examples of that in the 50+ demographic.
posted by Sequence at 11:36 AM on December 5, 2015 [22 favorites]


I think then that it's the parents' and the schools' job to lead children to experiences where they don't need a device. I make the time to not watch a screen, which is easy because I get sick of screens after looking at them all day for my work.

I was not allowed to watch TV all day, listen to music all day, or even read books all day as a child - and if I had an engrossing book, the real world was dead to me. Even in college, where I can safely say that in the 80s and 90s, dependence on computers was increasing in the classroom environment, my science and math classes divided time between being on a computer and actually trying to figure things out in your head, observing phenomena, and doing hands-on experiments.

These young people, when they become parents, will need to learn to not give their little ones screens until the parents have rooted something in the children on experiencing real life. Very few of my friends with young children allow screens all day (including TV), and with the nieces and nephews who are older Millenials now starting to have kids, we remind them also: "Don't give the baby the iPad! Take them to see actual trees and animals! Play with them outside and actually pay attention to them, don't Instagram them. Draw pictures with them and take real walks."

I don't know if being in front of a screen all day is damaging, per se, but there has to be balance in all things, I think.
posted by droplet at 11:44 AM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought messenger bags were quite stylish then and all the kids are two-strapping their backpacks now.

That line struckstruck me as strangely out of touch for 1997. They weren't exactly common, but social suicide seems like a bit of a stretch
posted by timelord at 11:46 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I just lived

I've been thinking of them as well
posted by infini at 12:20 PM on December 5, 2015


After Zac turns the doorknob of Room 113 and takes his seat in Japanese III, he reaches into his shoulder bag, pushes aside his black iPhone 5S and Nintendo 3DS XL, and pulls out his Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet with purple detachable keyboard, which he props up on his desk using its kickstand.

Man if this person wrote the Metamorphosis they would have had Gregor Samsa wake up on a Sealy Posturepedic.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:23 PM on December 5, 2015 [21 favorites]


This is ... exactly the opposite of my experiences with students age 16-25: only a handful of them can touch-type on a laptop keyboard, and they are consistently blown away by my own typing speed and the fact thatI don't have to look at the keyboard. I'm willing to believe that it's changing again, but kind of skeptical that Zac is representative.

I taught myself to touch-type without actually trying to (and therefore in a slightly non-conventional way) just by using a computer a lot. So I used to assume kids these days would go the same way. Except they're actually mostly typing on touch screens duh
posted by atoxyl at 12:38 PM on December 5, 2015


It’s Me, another my age and Son, late teens. The area is fairly new to me, completely new to them.

"Let’s get some dinner. There’s a place down the street we could try."
Son begins frantically browsing phone and naming restaurants.
"We’re going to try this place down the street"
Son doesn’t stop reading us names and ratings.
"We’re going to try this place down the street"
Son is telling us star ratings and location of said restaurant as we drive.
"Who’s ratings?"
Son admits he has no idea what the rating means or where it comes from, looks surprised.
"Besides, we know where it is, it’s right down the street"
Son keeps reading us a non-stop stream of directions and random info about restaurant, staring his phone as we drive the mile and a half from my house, even though we keep repeating that we’re not interested and know where it is. This is irritating even for his dad who is a constant iphone user.
Finally I have to turn around and say "ENOUGH! We know where it is, I told you about it because I’VE SEEN IT WITH MY EYES, it’s right down the street from my house! We can see it from here, it’s right there! We’re going to try it regardless of what JimmyJay78 thought about the waiter."

Despite being tech obsessed, in the past I never I never got a smart phone when they came out simply because I thought I’d wait for the next generation. The longer I waited and watched the more I realized I didn’t want that to be a part of my life. I spend too much time on the internet now. Sometimes I get lost so I finally bought a GPS, but usually I don’t have it hooked up and just get lost because I find myself paying too much attention to the GPS instead of where I’m going. I have to try new things blindly sometimes.
posted by bongo_x at 12:40 PM on December 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Here's how this article was written.

ZIM: COMPUTER! I NEED TO SEND A REPORT TO THE TALLEST DESCRIBING MY AMAZING SUCCESS THUS FAR!

COMPUTER: Your what?

ZIM: CONSTRUCT AN INTELLIGENCE DOSSIER ON SOMETHING RELEVANT. SAY, UM... THE KIDS THESE DAYS! AND TECHNOLOGY!

COMPUTER: Well, I don't have a lot of information on kids. I only know four of them, and from what I can tell, they are not a representative sample.

ZIM: EXTRAPOLATE!

COMPUTER: Yeah, that worked out real well last time. *sigh* Hold on... There you go.

ZIM: THIS IS TOO PEDESTRIAN! INCREASE EXOTICISM 75%!

COMPUTER: Sure, why not.

ZIM: STILL TOO PEDESTRIAN! MAKE IT MORE ELOQUENT! LIKE THAT ONE GUY... WHAT WAS HIS NAME?

COMPUTER: Don't say S. T. Joshi. Don't say S. T. Joshi.

ZIM: I'VE GOT IT! S. T. JOSHI!

COMPUTER: DAG-nabbit! Can I at least cut the bigotry?

ZIM: sure?
posted by Fanghorn Dungeon, LLC at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Son admits he has no idea what the rating means or where it comes from, looks surprised.
As a counterpoint, almost every really bad restaurant experience I've had for the past couple years has been predictable from the online reviews. I won't go someplace new without checking out the reviews to get a feel for the place, even knowing that some are fake and some are going to be from people with vastly different tastes than me.
posted by Candleman at 1:09 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm not a kid anymore and manage people in an office. I have a tough time keeping up with the technology and struggle to be relevant to my new hires in their twenties. I can't imagine how confusing or frustrating it would be at times if you are a 50 or 60 year old and an educator. The acceleration of technology never ceases to amaze me.
posted by Muncle at 1:31 PM on December 5, 2015


50 just sounds old but we manage somehow to keep our fingers on the keys - my coping mechanism for this phenomena is to just not bother moving beyond my tech comfort zone and being productive rather than frustrated on tech that's not to my taste (smartphones in iOS or Android flavours).

Instead, I ask the young 'uns I work with, who are smart twenty something with their fingers on the pulse of real tech advances (bitcoin to mPesa transfers or omniplatform community engagement) to describe to me what they "see" and I integrate their version of what's going on with what I can see so that I'm not blindsided. tl;dr I recognize my limits and know I've now hit a wall which would be fruitless to try scrambling over. Much more efficient to think, ponder, reflect and integrate their observations and user research insights.

I learnt the tech trick from my dad. For the longest time he used Multimate, even after Win95 came out and i asked him why... he said what I am now saying above in my first paragraph. 20 years later, its dad who is using a smartphone and upgrading his systems. Maybe I will too, in my 70s.
posted by infini at 1:44 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Despite being firmly part of the "old generation" that's not supposed to understand, I also grew up with technology, and haven't seen any real deceleration in change from Pong to Fallout 4, VCRs to iCloud. And the cool kids always had their own underground bands nobody else had ever heard of. So it's not like we have lived with or lived through less technology, and in some ways quite the opposite. The last ten years has just seen better laptops, phones and tablets, not the births of these things.

So when I express my dislike for Facebook or Tindr or Snapchat, for example, it's not that I don't understand these things, or that I don't know how to use them (heck, in some ways I think it's specifically because I do understand them) and the presupposition that I don't use them because I'm too old to understand is a bit insulting sometimes.

While wading through all the grand claims this article makes about students finding their own ways and not succumbing to peer pressure anymore thanks to the Internet, these same students also all seem to use the same latest-fad social apps in exactly the same ways, right down to the way that multiple students explain the uncoolness of "ghosting", or as we called in back in the belted-onion days, lurking. I don't get how this is a sign they are any less herdlike or socially insecure than previous generations.

What caught my attention most, though, were the unadorned mentions that these students are taking high school classes such as Japanese III and Engineering Design which was enough, right there, to signal to me that this is way beyond my generation.
posted by rokusan at 1:57 PM on December 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'm in my fifties, and I know a good number of young people, from tweens to early thirties. They are generally more familiar with specific walled garden apps and the user interfaces of consumer devices than I am, but they don't know how they work or anything like that.

And they all still come crying to me when they need troubleshooting or advice.

I mean, a lot of these 'digital native' kids don't know the difference between Google search results and ads, and it's absolutely chilling the personal data they'll blithely turn over to shady random corporations for the most negligible conveniences and novelties.

It's not their fault. They're kids. But we adults should be teaching them a lot better than we are right now.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:12 PM on December 5, 2015 [29 favorites]


These technologies did completely change the world of human discourse and the article is completely right - it's not "off my lawn" stuff at all.

It's a new kind of thing - constant instant gratification for any form of data or communication you care to have.

And it's completely changed everything about kids - and young adults.

I've lived in New York City for decades, and I like to walk around. In the summer, you used to see kids out on the street or in gyms or basketball courts - and it's not like this has gone completely. But...

A couple of years ago it was a warm summer night and I walked past a huge public indoor basketball court. It was open, all lit up, nearly new - really inviting - and there were perhaps a dozen kids there, I saw more kids on other evenings but I never saw it even a little crowded.

If this had been there in the 80s, it would have been packed with kids on a Saturday night! I wondered - where were all the kids?

And then I had a mental picture of them - at home in front of their computers, all separate. It made me sad.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:23 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: CONSTRUCT AN INTELLIGENCE DOSSIER ON SOMETHING RELEVANT.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 2:26 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sure, you can find plenty of examples of young folks who actually understand what a computer is, what the Internet is, and how to use technology responsibly, but so what? You can say exactly the same thing about pretty much any age group. You can also find people who are over the age of 90 and play Halo, people who think bell peppers are spicy, or people who have used a Dell Latitude trackpad without being disappointed.*

I mean, a lot of these 'digital native' kids don't know the difference between Google search results and ads

I've been teaching people in the 15-75 age range for the last 15 years, and as far as I can tell, there is very little correlation between age and technical ability. Regardless of age, this is the script that a disturbingly large chunk of my students follow to find our school's learning management system.

1. Try to load Internet Explorer. Miss.
2. Try it again. Possibly not click it the right number of times.
3. Let's just pretend they get IE loaded this time. Go to the address bar and type in "google" - not google.com, just the word google.
4. Click on Google.com in the search results. (I'm lying here, but let's just pretend they're this good and move along.)
5. Type the name of our school and then the name of our LMS into the search bar on Google's main page.

To be fair, I should point out that our website is so miserably organized that searching it through Google is by far the fastest way to find anything that is not linked to directly from the first page.

But I should also point out that in step 3, when IE loads on a school computer, it loads the school's website. That website displays a big link to our LMS right in the middle of the screen. I have yet to see anyone actually click it.



*: I can only confirm the existence of the first two of these groups.
posted by Fanghorn Dungeon, LLC at 2:48 PM on December 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


> > Kids can't think/problem solve on their own.

> This is literally a thing that has been said about every generation, though.

This is not true.

No one said this about the generations that grew up before or during World War 2 - or the generation after.

People said bad things about the hippies - but more that they didn't want to participate in society: the stereotype is "dirty lazy hippies" not "hippies who can't think on their own."

No one complained about this about my generation, either. Times we good. We got out and got good jobs and did exciting things or bad things and people who wanted a career, got one. Society was good to us, but neither we nor our parents repaid the favor.

The reason these kids are bewildered is due to several bad things out of their control happening at more or less the same time.

One is No Child Left Behind and the degradation of the US teaching system into a mechanism for teaching kids to memorize facts - just at the moment that this skill is rendered obsolete.

Another is the ongoing decimation of the job market, a wave that is only gathering strength with time. Kids aren't given real jobs and they don't see a way to real jobs in the future.

Another is the constant barrage of information at a rate that is simply too great for anyone to process. I process information at an extremely high speed - I type faster than some people can read! - and yet I find that the streams of information that come in are nearly overwhelming without strict disciple, discipline that I fail at to some extent each day.

If I had been confronted with this stream when I was 12, there is no question I'd have become a helpless addict. It's not like I'm sure I'm not an addict now.

This firehose of addictive stimulus makes it very very hard to actually sit down and think - to discriminate between important information and brain candy. It contributes to a constant low level anxiety.


And of course the looming and obviously unstoppable specter of climate change (and in California and such parts, drought) hangs over all, threatening their children's and their children's children's prosperity and even their survival.

tl; dr: "kids today" are bewildered and hapless because they are miseducated in grim factories, paralyzed with fear at a grim future, drugged out of their minds by massive overexposure to high-bandwidth stimulus, and then fucked every which way to breakfast by an increasingly oligarchical, dog-eat-dog society.

I was part of one of the generations that did this to you, and even though I sort of tried to help to stop it, this clearly failed, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:55 PM on December 5, 2015 [28 favorites]


"kids today" are bewildered and hapless

Are they? This seems like an extraordinary claim. What, in your view, supports it?
posted by howfar at 3:01 PM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ignoring everything else about technology and it's ubiquity: in my experience, boredom catalyzes creativity. Nothing to do? I'm gonna go solder up a breadboard/record some riffs/draw a comic/go for a hike. I find having the internet with me 24/7 has definitely sucked away some of my initiative.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:02 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry - I should have been clearer:

""kids today" give the impression to some of being bewildered and hapless [when in fact they've just been dealt an exceptionally bad hand]." The kids are alright - the situation is fucked.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:07 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, I just hit the big 6-0 and my little apartment does not have a lawn, but it does have a covered porch with a rocking chair that looked out-of-date when I was 10. I am a true Child of the Television, having been hatched days before the debut of BOTH Captain Kangaroo and The Mickey Mouse Club (Alfred Hitchcock Presents also debuted that week but I was never allowed to watch it until it was well into reruns). I have spent those 60 years with TVs ranging from 9-inch portables luggables to 21-inch home furniture, much of it in boring black and white, and I do not feel comfortable with TVs that cover a whole wall or that fit in my pocket. My 15-inch laptop screen is my favorite TV. But I'm watching much less TV thanks to the Internet shrinking my attention span and all the Best shows having the Worst Anti-Heroes (even Doctor Who's going dark and the former Captain Picard is playing an asshole - it's back to Mickey Mouse because everybody's Hitchcock now).

And I got into computing devices with a Commodore 64 and IBM Series F Terminals plugged into refrigerator-sized System 34's (and feel lucky to have just missed the punch-card era), and I still feel best with a full typewriter-ish keyboard... and with a learning curve that's longer than two minutes. But my latest cheap, 2-updates-behind Android smartphone is getting me comfy with touchscreens and halfway-decent autocomplete options. I was seriously into 'the next thing' until financial disaster ruled that out umpteen years ago and have grown rather stodgy about tech since then (also my sad timing in looking for jobs during EVERY short recession then getting work in dying businesses gave me a bit of an idea what the current generation is dealing with).

So from where I sit (or lie down with my laptop on my belly), the technology really is far from the biggest problem, and it all might be more "people friendly" than just "user friendly" if we all wanted to be more than either "user" or "used" in the first place.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:18 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


>> > Kids can't think/problem solve on their own.

>> This is literally a thing that has been said about every generation, though.

>This is not true.

>No one said this about the generations that grew up before or during World War 2 - or the generation after.

In the sense that critical thinking and problem solving are things that we have only relatively recently decided to start pretending we want schools to teach, sure. But in the sense that "The %SCARY_NEW_THING% is making the kids these days unable to take care of themselves or be functional members of society," it absolutely has.

See, for example, Clara Reeve's fairly moderate take on circulating libraries in The Progress of Romance (1785). Or, just to see how crazy people get, check out Thrase Talmon's 1856 claim that the rapid pace of modern life was literally making younger generations shorter. A 1926 article in The Pentecostal Evangel claims that allowing young people to watch movies will not only push the young folks toward crime, but will actually provide them with all of the skills required to become the most effective criminals the world has ever seen. Or, going back a little bit, book 7 of The Republic, which warns that children's play and toys should be carefully regulated and never allowed to change, or else kids might invent new games and thus (naturally) never develop important critical thinking skills like being able to tell good from bad.


tl; dr: "kids today" are bewildered and hapless because they are miseducated in grim factories, paralyzed with fear at a grim future, drugged out of their minds by massive overexposure to high-bandwidth stimulus, and then fucked every which way to breakfast by an increasingly oligarchical, dog-eat-dog society.

Look at the history of public education. Yeah, there were a few heroic and, by and large, unsuccessful people who saw it as a chance to improve society, but by and large it was designed and implemented as a way to keep kids off the streets while their parents worked in grim factories, as well as to prepare kids to one day work in the same grim factories. Before cell phones it was video games, or Dungeons and Dragons, or motion pictures, or music played over the radio, or bicycles, or novels. And before the increasingly oligarchical, dog-eat-dog society of today, it was the increasingly oligarchical, dog-eat-dog society of yesterday. And yes, somebody was always pointing this out, and no, they never managed to do anything about it.

The biggest difference I can see today is that, unlike the 1940s, there aren't as many grim factories to work in once you get through the grim factory that is the education system. In the US, at least, this means that we're preparing far too many of our students for prison instead of factory work.
posted by Fanghorn Dungeon, LLC at 3:34 PM on December 5, 2015 [17 favorites]


The kids are alright - the situation is fucked.

I think I generally agree, but I'd suggest that technology is mainly a factor in this by virtue of increasing the complexity and pace of life (not just consumption, but engagement too), exacerbating underlying stresses and inequalities. I don't think it's actually that hard to adapt to, if you have the appropriate set of advantages in the first place. But if you're already fucked, it's harder to adapt, and a failure to adapt ensures you get fucked hard.

I don't think this is just (or even primarily) a problem for young people, though. I think it's an issue for pretty much everyone who is getting fucked by late stage consumerist capitalism (in the developed world, anyway - people in the rest of the world are getting screwed in other ways). The people I think of, in particular, are my legal aid funded housing law clients, most of whom are in some way vulnerable and about 30% of whom don't speak much English; these individuals are required, over and over again, to navigate complex electronic and bureaucratic systems while dealing with changing processes and shifting expectations.

The majority of people do actually adapt and survive, but the people who end up in our office (because they are at risk of losing, or have already lost, their homes) are too often there because they couldn't work out what to do, and ended up doing the wrong thing, or nothing, and saw everything unravel from there.

So while technology is a factor, I think it's best understood as a catalyst of changes that are political, social and economic in nature, rather than being intrinsically problematic itself.
posted by howfar at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


In the US, at least, this means that we're preparing far too many of our students for prison instead of factory work.

Prison as well as factory work.
posted by howfar at 3:41 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


What caught my attention most, though, were the unadorned mentions that these students are taking high school classes such as Japanese III and Engineering Design which was enough, right there, to signal to me that this is way beyond my generation.

Me too, but then again, this sounds like a relatively fancy public high school, and I bet the variance between schools today is substantially bigger than their variance over time. As a college freshman I remember being shocked at the difference between my high school's selection of options (we didn't even have Calc BC! or AP Physics! as a matter of fact I just checked and we still don't have either of those) with what some of my classmates had taken (multivariable calc, linear algebra, optics, etc.), and that was almost 15 years ago.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:51 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I mean if that stuff is really percolating through the whole school system, that'd be one thing, but given the ballooning of wealth (and thus tax base) inequality, I remain a little skeptical.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:53 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish both of them would go outside more, and sit around less. They both have good grades. They both struggle with relationships of all kinds & worry a good bit about what to wear.

So i grew up right at the transition point of this. I had a cell phone in middle school, and a couple of my friends had really early pocketPC/windows mobile phones because their parents worked at tech companies. By high school, everyone was texting all the time. The iphone came out junior year, and a couple of kids had them.

Texting, social media, and online/app communication in general is the best thing to ever happen for someone like me with social anxiety and mild autism.

Multiple close friends of mine who are mentally interesting say similar things. Some of them were really shy and reserved and would just go no contact with everyone fairly often until that became The Method Of Communciation.

You can take it "as you pull it", and there isn't this big pressure to immediately have a response ready or present yourself a certain way right at that very moment. Texting or snapchatting someone back an hour later when you feel better is almost never weird.

Where i'm going with this, is that i really wish this stuff had all existed when i was their ages(although it sort of vaguely did a bit when i was 15). It pulled me, and many of my friends out of our shells so much and gave us room to really socially develop at our own pace without the two steps forward/one step back of being forced into things, made fun of, being punished for responding wrong or being unable to right then, etc that made up a whole lot of our childhoods.

There's just so much more room to not only safely experiment, but be much more thoughtful about what you're going to say and present.

I'm not just "yes, this is not a negative thing". I see a lot of text only and time shifted digital communication as sort of the great equalizer for anyone who has issues with social interaction. Or is even just a bit shy and uneasy about it.

And it hasn't just made me(or them) better at talking to eachother through the internet, but more confident at talking to people in general. Which has helped out my entire life.
posted by emptythought at 3:54 PM on December 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


My students aren't any better or worse at philosophy than they were 15 years ago. Nor is their ability to pay attention any worse.

I learned BASIC on an Apple II wa back when. So I'm old. But I don't think there is any technological gap between students and me.

But "Gen Xer fails to find young people mysterious" doesn't make for a great story unless you're writing for the Onion.
posted by persona au gratin at 4:02 PM on December 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


There definitely is a technological gap between my mom and me, though not as big as between others in their 70s and me.
posted by persona au gratin at 4:07 PM on December 5, 2015


Today's unboxing videos = yesterday's penny comics. There is always trouble in River City. Kids today are always lazy, shiftless, distracted and nothing like you were as a kid.

Except that that is not the story your parents could tell.

I used to hide in a walk-in closet reading all day, avoiding the beautiful fresh air and sunshine, driving my mother crazy. Not good reading, either; crappy sci-fi, romance novels, joke books, my sister's Cosmo if I could steal it. Trashy historical romances stolen from my mom's bookshelf. I watched shitty cartoons obsessively, avoided my chores, bathed seldom and was whiny as fuck if asked to get off my ass and do anything.

I grew out of it. Your unboxing video/Minecraft-obsessed children will too.
posted by emjaybee at 6:01 PM on December 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm in my fifties, and I know a good number of young people, from tweens to early thirties. They are generally more familiar with specific walled garden apps and the user interfaces of consumer devices than I am, but they don't know how they work or anything like that.
-------
So when I express my dislike for Facebook or Tindr or Snapchat, for example, it's not that I don't understand these things, or that I don't know how to use them (heck, in some ways I think it's specifically because I do understand them) and the presupposition that I don't use them because I'm too old to understand is a bit insulting sometimes.

———

Yeah, I found this narrative about age and tech tiresome 20 years ago. My mom, in her 70’s, I wouldn’t call a tech wiz, but she does build her own computers from scratch and uses Facebook. My younger relatives just stare at a device that doesn’t work. I’ve never used Facebook, Twitter, or had a smart phone of any type, but I can probably fix your computer. 95% of the interaction I’ve had with IOS or Android has been fixing something for a friend, relative, or complete stranger.

But these things are never presented as a choice; it’s either you’re too old, you don’t understand it, but rarely that you’re just not interested.
posted by bongo_x at 6:03 PM on December 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


My grandfather was born shortly after the James Bros. were done and the baldnobbers' were still refighting the Civil War. His father was a mule skinner and horse trader who put on a Colt .45 every morning before chores. Grandpa had to fetch wood and water to the cabin. Later he plowed with a team of mules and a shotgun nearby.

Married a teacher, saw his father-in-law in a knife fight at his sister-in-law's wedding. In his 30's, he still stepped off the trail into the woods if heard someone on foot or on a horse near. He had kids before modern medicine, saw a brand new Model T, and bought a tractor.

Discussed with Grandma if it was ok it admit we were a bunch of half-breeds to people outside the family in 1973. He helped his grandkids go to collage, and he let me use the remote to turn on his color TV to watch a Scotch-Irish jet jock step off a lunar lander.

My life was more like Opie's. My daughter can't remember not knowing how to use a mouse, used to generate 3-5000 texts a month pre Facebook. Sometimes she calls me a 20th century barbarian, but she has helped bury more friends than me, mostly ODs or related violence. I hope my time wasn't the golden age of our empire.
posted by ridgerunner at 6:13 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm 28 and from what I can tell, life is way better for kids today. A much wider range of interests and activities are acceptable. I wish tumblr had existed when I was a 13-year-old kid into abstract art and HTML.
posted by scose at 7:02 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


The part about Kids These Days; I don’t think they’re going to turn into bug eyed monsters, but I am a little concerned that they’re overly afraid of them.

I have long been hopeful since younger people seem to be much more accepting and generally seem to be moving toward my Socialist Utopia. But lately I’ve had some doubts. The future rarely goes where we think it will. It’s possible we may be heading into a new Victorianism (which I thought I was making up but spell check seems to think is a word).

I think people usually tend to view all history as a progression. Technology has been progressing, the human part is cyclic. But people tend to see Enlightenment ramping up from the past toward their time. The problem being that the definition of Enlightenment is always changing. Technology has accelerated at a rate I never thought possible it the last 20+ years, but from my point of view society in terms of creativity has stagnated, as if the technology is taking it’s place. People are always talking about the fast pace of life these days, but I see a lot of people sitting around staring at screens. It doesn’t look that fast.

I think my generation was the great leap toward Sheltered Snowflake status, and the effect has been multiplying with each crop after that. The internet lifestyle enforces the sheltered AND snowflake aspects like never before, at least for the Haves. I’m not sure those two things together in extra large servings is good for you. (I am constantly amazed at the breadth of things that are deemed gross, creepy, or scary. It seems to be a very limited world of things that aren’t.)

The shoplifting thread claims that the pressure on young people to have "The Best" is like never before. I don’t know that I agree, but I do agree that many of them won’t be able to afford it. We seem to have a Sheltered Snowflake generation that is going to have a lot of trouble maintaining the lifestyle that they grew up with. They may not be happy about that.

Will all of these pressures lead to overthrowing the Evil Overlords, or closing ranks from the Outsiders who are trying to take away the good old days? And what about the Have-Nots? We’re already seeing the democratization of society slipping away, with the assumption that the internet was going to fix that, but is it, or is it going to enforce it? I’m afraid we’re headed for a societal upheaval, I’m not at all sure what that’s going to look like.

emptythought’s comment makes me hopeful.
posted by bongo_x at 7:05 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought Tumblr existed; it was just called Geocities. :)
posted by Earthtopus at 7:05 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


We seem to have a Sheltered Snowflake generation that is going to have a lot of trouble maintaining the lifestyle that they grew up with.

Only if you leave out everyone who isn't upper-middle-class. The rest of the kids are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff from an early age, including money troubles.
posted by emjaybee at 8:59 PM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


more is available
more is possible
more is expected
more is needed

I imagine this applies to every generation born since the Black Death, certainly since the twin apocalypses of the 20th century, World Wars One and Two.
posted by philip-random at 9:18 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Only if you leave out everyone who isn't upper-middle-class.

Well, that was kind of my whole point, I guess I didn’t make that clear enough. How much comfort will the Haves be willing to give up when there’s not a lot to go around? Are the Have-Nots going to have say or be thrown under the bus?
posted by bongo_x at 9:35 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sfunny. My son was raised on my knee with a Commodore 64 computer and a small TV as a monitor. He is also one of the fastest touch typists I have ever seen. He taught himself and he was clocked at close to 100 wpm at the age of 15.

I personally am a hunt and pecker. As well as sometimes hunting pecker.

Which is neither here nor there. Unless you are here. And there you go.
posted by Splunge at 10:57 PM on December 5, 2015


Well, I suppose it's nice that occasionally the white people find someone to Other besides the people of color.

But you know, I work every day with people of college age, and about 95% of the hysterical rhetoric in these threads is just utter bullshit. They resemble the people I work with about as much as the Cadillac-driving welfare queen resembled real life.

People here are selling add being sold a bill of goods. They only interesting question is why; who profits from the hysteria about the young?
posted by happyroach at 3:46 AM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I believe the intent of the author is to support a spec script already sitting in John Hughes' mail.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 4:10 AM on December 6, 2015


How much comfort will the Haves be willing to give up when there’s not a lot to go around? Are the Have-Nots going to have say or be thrown under the bus?

I think this is a valid concern, but it's at least as much intergenerational as intragenerational. I don't think the problem is so much "kids these days" (I think this is pretty minor) and more an issue of what happens more generally when an extremely long period of general social and economic stability comes to an end. The postwar era is finally ending, and the future is scary for all of us.
posted by howfar at 4:22 AM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


As someone who managed to be a young person on the Internet in the 1980s (technically), and who used it to get through a whole bunch of teen identity crises, and as a career Unix/Internet professional I always have a hard time fitting myself into these conversations. The Old&Busted are portrayed as technophobic and outdated, the NewHotness portrayed as clever kids outfoxing their parents.

It's like some breathless Old has turned to me and said "The kids these days, with their hot dogs. They're so brilliant. I can't work out how to eat them!" and I have to shrug and say "I build abattoirs. Don't eat the sausage."
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:30 AM on December 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


Get out of my augmented-reality hyper-sim Grandpa!
posted by blue_beetle at 5:42 AM on December 6, 2015


Okay, so I made the mistake of getting my kid a tablet for her birthday because All The Other Kids Had One and because I wasn't giving her a smartphone. It was late in the game (age 12) so i got to see her radically shift. She is still reading books, but only at school or on the car ride home or when I have enforced a tablet break. She is still doing art, but only at school or on the way home or when I have enforced a tablet break. Other than that, if she is allowed to use her tablet, she will be using her tablet.

She did something stupid and got it taken away for a month. In that month, she did NaNoWriMo, and under the Young Writers Program, won with a novel of over 22,000 words on my laptop. She was cruising for higher, but I made the mistake of letting her have the tablet back a week from the deadline so she could do "research". I think she even meant it. But the tablet takes her from thing to thing.

This isn't just about the kids. I mean to do things, and then my smartphone dings, and I spend an hour arguing on Facebook, or fucking with a game that provides instant gratification at any moment I am bored. And because I'm in the middle generation, when I put my phone down and don't answer, I am met with people pinging more frantically. Where am I? Didn't I see this post? What am I doing that is not answering?

I am genuinely worried about my kid, who is high intelligence, but doesn't seem to be learning the same in person social skills that I had to learn at her age. She refers to her online friends as her "best friends". My only hope is that everyone is equally fucked up with her. I want to put the genie back in the box, but also don't want her to miss even this way of keeping up. I do not know what to do.
posted by corb at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe the availability of this stuff is slightly increased, but it's not fundamentally brand new. I'm 25 now, and had a PC and internet access in my bedroom from perhaps the age of 12 or 13. I spent hours and hours a day on that computer for most of my adolescent life. Somehow though, I managed to figure out social skills regardless (or at least I hope I did!). I think I realised aged 16 or 17 that in-person social interaction was enjoyable and worth doing and considerably better than the online kind.
posted by leo_r at 2:52 PM on December 6, 2015


I learned a new word last week: smombie. It's German for smartphone zombie.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:23 PM on December 6, 2015


It doesn't seem like it's nearly large enough to be a German word. Are you sure it's not something like SchlauTelefonUntotenMensch?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2015


There's just so much more room to not only safely experiment, but be much more thoughtful about what you're going to say and present.

I want this to be the norm, rather than a happy exception, but being "much more thoughtful about what you're going to say and present" just isn't how I see younger people using the Internet.

(Nor, for the most part, older people.)
posted by rokusan at 9:41 PM on December 9, 2015


"I am genuinely worried about my kid, who is high intelligence, but doesn't seem to be learning the same in person social skills that I had to learn at her age. She refers to her online friends as her 'best friends.'"

I was a teenager in the 90s. My online friends were my best friends, and that was a very, very good things. Because even though I am relatively affable and try to be a good person, I am also a little weird. And so the selection of people in my town who wanted to be my friend was pretty small, and the subset of those people whom I felt comfortable with and could trust and confide in was even smaller. Like zero, really. The kids I called my friends in real life were really acquaintances, people to group up with so that none of us had to sit alone in the cafeteria. I think that for a lot of kids, having online best friends isn't taking us away from best friends that we'd have in real life if we weren't spending so much time on the internet. If we didn't have the internet, we just wouldn't have real friends at all, and we'd use the word "friend" to describe anyone who happens to be geographically proximate whose company doesn't give you a panic attack, and actually having no real friends at all. At least, that's how it was for me until I got online.

Long story short, keep encouraging (and nudging, and maybe sometimes even forcing) your daughter to explore a wide range of interests, both electronic and otherwise. But don't automatically assume that she's socially deficient because she's found people she genuinely cares about and feels cared for by, but who don't happen to live near you. Having that is a good thing, no matter where it happens.
posted by decathecting at 11:47 PM on December 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Last week I showed my algebra class a slide rule. These folks are not fans of mathematics. Most of them are in my class because they assessed into pre-algebra when they took the college-level math test and the pair of classes I'm teaching can get from pre-algebra to statistics in two semesters rather than three. I've got a range of ages, but most of them are no more than a year out of high school. They were really into the idea that a couple of sticks marked with a logarithmic scale could be used to go from adding and subtracting to multiplying and dividing (this slide rule isn't fancy enough for much else), and a couple of them wanted to know where I found it. I said I got it at a junk shop, and one of my youngest students very emphatically said, "That's not junk!" The rest of the class generally agreed. So maybe this generation has trouble remembering a whole lot about life before smart phones, but maybe we don't need to exoticize them, either.
posted by Fanghorn Dungeon, LLC at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


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