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Filling the emptiness that already exists

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Perhaps the internet, technology and social networks only “fill the hole” that already exists in the lives of people today?

Hippies, goat ropers or rednecks and jocks were the supposed three main categories of people during my senior high class more years ago than I care to admit. Things have changed today! Today, the social types are “texter and gamer, Facebook addict and YouTube potato,” at least according to “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” by Matt Richtel in the NY Times.  In this article, he references a number of studies, many of which warn about what today’s technology is doing to the minds of people’s brains. He does provide a few positive perspectives in which educators who have embraced technology are reaching students.  You can check out previous posts I have done on this topic here and here and here.

After being without internet connection for three of the past five weeks and not doing any blogging for a month, Richtel’s article caught my attention or what little attention I have left!  During that time, I have read half a dozen books (most on my kindle) so I guess I can still concentrate. A few years ago, someone said I was addicted to the internet–after reading Richtel’s article, I have a long way to go to catch up with the addictions of the young people in his article. I  have missed the process of writing. It does help me to focus my thinking. So, even though making this post has taken me more than an hour, I hope to start blogging again on a regular basis.  I do glance at FB a few times a week but post on it more frequently since my blog posts are forwarded there and I post from my kindle to FB. I am really not a heavy internet user either–to be honest, I can quickly get bored browsing the internet.  Rather than clicking on another link, I close the computer. So maybe I am not exactly a normal user??  My wife may beg to disagree

A few selected quotes from Richtel’s longish article:

On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”

Unchecked use of digital devices, he says, can create a culture in which students are addicted to the virtual world and lost in it.

“I can text one person while talking on the phone to someone else.”

Escaping into games can also salve teenagers’ age-old desire for some control in their chaotic lives. “It’s a way for me to separate myself,” Ramon says. “If there’s an argument between my mom and one of my brothers, I’ll just go to my room and start playing video games and escape.”

He says he sometimes wishes that his parents would force him to quit playing and study, because he finds it hard to quit when given the choice.

“Video games don’t make the hole; they fill it,” says Sean

“Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.”

Without the Internet, “I also wouldn’t know what I want to do with my life.”

“I click and something happens,” he says, explaining that, by comparison, reading a book or doing homework is less exciting. “I guess it goes back to the immediate gratification thing.”

“It’s a catastrophe,” said Alan Eaton, a charismatic Latin teacher. He says that technology has led to a “balkanization of their focus and duration of stamina,” and that schools make the problem worse when they adopt the technology.


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