Kids today -- we're telling you! -- don't read, don't write, don't care about anything farther in front of them than their iPods. The Internet, according to 88-year-old [Nobel Prize winner Doris] Lessing (whose specialty is sturdy typewriters, or perhaps pens), has "seduced a whole generation into its inanities."
Or is it the older generation that the Internet has seduced -- into the inanities of leveling charges based on fear, ignorance and old-media, multiple-choice testing? So much so that we can't see that the Internet is only a means of communication, and one that has created a generation, perhaps the first, of writers, activists, storytellers? When the world worked in hard copy, no parent or teacher ever begrudged teenagers who disappeared into their rooms to write letters to friends -- or a movie review, or an editorial for the school paper on the first president they'll vote for. Even 15-year-old boys are sharing some part of their feelings with someone out there.
Speaking of kids and the--what do you call this thing? The Internets?--Newsweek has a story about a new documentary we're kind of excited to see, Frontrunner, which examines the electoral campaigns of students at Stuyvesant High and what it says about the Internet-fueled "Look At Me Generation."
One of the ironies of the Look at Me Generation is that many young people believe they are masters of their own images, only to discover, like the topless girl in "American Teen," they can't control anything. "Every decision you make can be so regrettable now, because technology can be so much more vicious," says Nanette Burstein, the film's director. Online gossip sites such as juicycampus.com exacerbate the problem by making it possible for kids to post rumors about each other anonymously, with little recourse for the victims. "What is different is there are these digital footprints," says C. J. Pascoe, a sociologist studying how teens use new media. One kid she studied had broken up with his girlfriend a year earlier, but he still had her name as part of his MySpace page address, the virtual equivalent of having SUZY FOREVER tattooed on his arm.
What do you think about kids and the Internet? Is all the parental discussion, debate, and monitoring excessive or justified?