The reading this week that interested me the most was “Say Everything” because it’s almost an out-of-body experience to read about research being done on a generation I’m actively a part of. My parents definitely enjoy their sense of privacy — my house is located in a dead end, after all! But given a computer, I can form friendships and keep in touch with people from California and Japan. None of those relationships could’ve happened if I didn’t have both a stable and constant internet connection AND the willingness to be vulnerable online to the point where we can share as much of our identities with one another as people would normally glean from face-to-face interactions. I can safely say that I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced more good than the bad in all my years of being an internet denizen, enough to rival the author who grew up ” ‘putting themselves out there’ and found that the benefits of being transparent make the risks worth it.”
But this article stretched my thinking and made me question the validity of our older generation’s concerns in a curious and meaningful way because it won’t be long til the world’s current group of teenagers grow up, gain an expanded consciousness and vocabulary, and declare my generation to be dated and old-fashioned. I can read this article as a commentary from the perspective of an adult figure posed to speculate the trends young people as a casual researcher. But we’re already on the cusp between young adolescence and maturity — will we be able to fully comprehend the ways internet and worldwide connectivity sculpts the culture of the future’s leaders?
“Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion … it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones.”
This bias reminds me of a study I read for another class I’m currently taking called Children and Media, with Dr. Vikki Katz. In “Gradations in digital confusion: children, young people, and the digital divide” Sonia Livingstone and Ellen Helsper look at how it’s wrong to assume that our youth is, by default, technologically savvy. In fact, it would be highly erroneous as well as a huge disservice to today’s body of research as well as cross-generational communication patterns to believe that youth everywhere are evolving at an incomprehensible rate and thus be completely inaccessible by those who aren’t so technologically adept. Their article continued to stress that changing technology doesn’t change people, as technologically deterministic advocates would argue. Rather, continuing to be mindful of family environments, cultures, needs, upbringing, gender, race, socioeconomic status, are all highly influential in the ways one 7 year old watches TV with her mom and 4 siblings and how another 7 year old already has an iPad.
In essence, I don’t share the same sense of shock as this author. I blog on a regular occasion and share personal details with any and all who can find the URL to my site and my circumstances have helped shaped the privilege I currently enjoy to be able to craft my online identity, take part in an online community, and belong to my generation. I don’t know if I can prevent myself from being shocked by what the people younger than me will do, but like the author said, it’s good to take the good and the bad of anything in stride. “There are lousy side effects of most social changes (see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system). But the real question is, as with any revolution, which side are you on?”
I wouldn’t be ready for this though: