Childhood II

As a follow-up to the post I put on about childhood, we recently discussed at school the effect that media and technology has on children and adults as well.

The issue goes like this: many people that are currently our teachers lived in days when things were really way different than they are now. Most teachers are aged 40-50 or something like that and consider things from their point of view (always), like some broken machinery. I think just a few of them are really privileged to be smart and witty, unlike the vast majority of them who just take us through our 12 years of school for money’s sake.

Forget about the past
They grew up during communism, had their share of crappy times and today my dad just mentioned that their rebel ideas were something .. innocent compared to what happens today. As kids they wouldn’t have 3 television sets in their own homes and watch whatever crap they wanted on tv, there was no Cartoon Network, no Discovery, nothing to lighten up people’s brains back then, no computers (only in universities) and no internet access. No wonder so many people are dumb and blunt at the same time nowadays, and they’re the same people that teach us what we should know.

I can tell there’s a huge difference between my childhood and my brother’s childhood. There’s a 7 year gap between us and stuff is clearly going to evolve different. The comparison chart goes like this : My dad studdied better than me in high-school and had different friends, while I studied better than my younger brother, who isn’t really fond of school.

And who would be? To be honest, no sane person would say at 7 years that they want to go to school because nowadays, the future „dorks” aren’t geeks who just read and read and read over and over again to understand something and get A+ grades in everything. Gone are those days, the new geeks are going to be bloggers and programming wizards, from what I see.

My dad’s colleagues had odd ideas related to acting their age, it would have been the biggest risk ever to go smoke in the toilette, considering you could get caught and stuff. Yeah, in my school, during absolutely every break there are 6-7 people smoking in every other bathroom, depening on where they are located. That’s just they, I like doing other stuff and maybe not so interested in getting drunk now, because there will be plenty of other times 😀
Our generation’s odd ideas range from getting drunk, acting drunk, talking crap and smoking in front of your teachers while out of range of our high-school and other activities.
My brother’s colleagues like stealing Hustler and Playboy magazines from their kinky parents and read them at school and usually do stuff that kids their age would do, except for the Yu-Gi-Oh! cards (god damn fuckers with your marketing, you did the best job ever) and McDonald’s Happy Meals served at anniversaries (again, well targeted marketing jobs) plus many other things. I didn’t have Yu-Gi-Oh! but when I was about 10 there was the Pokemon phenomenon who shaped the world differently.

Physically speaking…
Technology, has somehow ruined childhood. Believe it or not, there’s an article that states sending 100 text messages a day ruins your fingers. Who knows, maybe that girl will have her finger cut off in a few years because of excessive messaging. Now, every kid in primary school has a 1337 phone attached to their necks, waiting for calls from busy parents. Next they’ll even start letting us get our laptops at school and take notes instead of ….old school notebooks.
Staring at your computer screen for too long will eventually make you wear glasses. It is well known that if you don’t take regular brakes, bla bla, your view gets foggy, your eyes burn like hell and you feel the need to cool off with some cold water and everything. There’s also a Romanian article concerning this as well.
And one of the problems concerning staring at your computer screen also includes the way you sit – many people get back problems, which affect teenagers aged 13 or 14 and even later, but not that fast. Scoliosis is something I got, out of ignorance and disbelief, unfortunately. It’s not in an advanced state, and I wouldn’t let it, because I get to exercice a lot. Anyway, blame it on the computer. 😀

Psychologically speaking
Technology and automatization are mind killers. Everything gets to be simplified a lot, it just makes your existance a lot easier, day by day. Instead of having super high tech gadgets around the house and teaching your 3 year old kid to master them and know what each button (out of 50) does, companies just make 5 big buttons, the on/off one, the joystick for fast forward, change channel and fast forward, the volume adjuster is no longer needed, machines will be so smart, they’ll even recognize ambiental noise and adjust your multi-functional radio and tv and everything. So basically, you don’t need to be really smart to know what 5 buttons do and neither will it be for kids to memorise all these things.
Even Bill Gates said it :

„So the digital decade is something that we’re very excited about. It’s very transforming. And it requires a bit of patience. It requires laying the infrastructure for these new approaches. It requires simplifying things. Just because these great things work doesn’t mean that they’ll be used very broadly.”

That just means it’ll make things a lot easier in a very busy era, but it will also make people dumber, or at least that is what I think. People who aren’t really privileged to be intelligent right now (civil servants are some sort of example) are going to suffer a lot more. They’re going to have children and instead of teaching them usefull stuff, they’re going to stick up their throats raw information and hand them mp3 players at the age 4 so they „fit in” with the view.

Taking everything for granted will make future children (and some of the actual children) a lot lazier than they are today. Why should mom make us pizza when she can order it and it has „almost” the same taste. We don’t have time for all this crap and mess, due to the whole process of making pizza, do we now? If a device has a lot of flashing buttons, it will easily be left aside in favour of something else, real fast. Instead, if it only has two buttons, there are endless possibilities in which a kid can use it. Take a stick. It can be anything, from a weapon to a support object, if used wisely. Instead, a toy guitar with lots of stuff on it making weird noises will easily bore someone. Creativity killers, indeed.

Other factors that will shape childhood
…like advertising, that influences kids so much (bad?), it’s all looking so perfect. Advertisers are very aware of its impact on children. The number of books american young people read dropped with 25% (1982-2002) while number of advertisments grew with 36% during 1991 and 2003. „Every generation has its way” , so this is the „new media” way. How can you not forget „laser, frate!” ? 😀
Depending on the kids and their families, that just makes them a lot smarter. Commercials helped my brother and sister correctly identify brands, they can tell the difference between a BMW and a Volvo when they see them or any other two logos. I am proud of myself 😀

Will come back with more stuff, doing a later edit tomorrow.

Un răspuns la “Childhood II”

  1. I don’t quite agree with you on the technology part. I think technology has a great potential for enhancing people’s lives. But it’s just a tool, so saying it makes life (or childhood) worse, is like saying consciousness, or the wheel make life worse. It definitely can make lives worsen, but the only with the ‘aid’ of a will to use it in that direction. Your grim outlook on life is counter-productive, but realistic. But stupidity plays a total role, not the technology it employs.

    Regarding the media way, I think it’s distraction. It’s useful for some, consumed by some and transcended by others. It ‘kills’ some, makes a living for some and strengthens others (i.e.: makes them look elsewhere for utility).

    That’s it about tech and media. About the rest, about the fact that you seem to live in a world of absurd pseudo-purposes (i.e.: learning uniteresting stuff, to graduate and satisfy artificial demands placed upon you in order to be allowed to live a normal life), I think it just like that. Just as you see it. But not as you feel it. It will go away. Just don’t forget you actually want it to go away. 😉