Posted by: elightkeeper | October 15, 2010

Relationships as content

Media has a history of being misunderstood and subsequently trashed. Back in the day, it was thought that television would surely rot the brains of youth as we sat with our faces pressed up against the screen watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. The content we could access was even more frightening to our parents.  Rock and roll was accessible everywhere – on radio, TV and vinyl.  Media was changing the world.

A little over a decade ago, we went through another significant transition.  People with little knowledge of technology could use the internet to access all kinds of new and current information. Never mind that the information wasn’t necessarily accurate and finding it was like looking for an earring in a vacuum cleaner bag.  No matter.  It was about immediacy, access and personal control. We didn’t have to rely on media outfits to feed us information; we could go find what we wanted, when we wanted it.

These days, a new concern has emerged from the original cast of television viewers who now observe youth obsessed with computer games, cell phones, texting and social media.  A new generation of parents fears that we may be permanently altering the way we think and relate as a result of technology.  If the medium is the message and information is content, then so are relationships. With “ieverythings” at our technological fingertips and so many ways to access information using these tools, it is heady business. The pun is intended. The way we use our brains is changing.

Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that everyone has an opinion about certain forms of new media. It is nothing short of messy to live in an age where we have so many tools and so little time.  It can be difficult, frustrating, and exhausting to keep up. Perhaps these are some of the things that fuel reactionary responses to applications of technology. Here are three camps of resistance I have identified:

You’ve Got Email

This camp is largely populated by young people, many of whom would be classified by date of birth as members of Generation Y or Z. These kids use email as a secondary tool of communication and are fond of creating outrageous user names for email accounts that they rarely use.  In stark contrast to these youngsters, but still in the same camp, are the middle-aged business people. They have been buried alive in email for the best part of a decade and are sick to death of it. They are usually in the possession of Outlook Inboxes containing over 1,000 messages.

In Your Facebook

Interestingly, this is also a cross-generational group. True to human form, anything which becomes wildly popular with the masses is bound to get a reaction from fringe elements of the populace. Facebook is the fastest growing form of social media we have ever known. Bordering on omnipresent, it is frequently criticized for its superficial and self-indulgent uses. Facebook appeals to popular culture as it can turn anyone into a teenager again without plastic surgery.  For some, this can be fun to play with. For others, it makes them say and do things they may regret later.

Twitter Is For The Birds

Those who don’t like Twitter never threw a note in class, find Ashton Kutcher annoying and probably still purchase Hallmark greeting cards. (That sentence is exactly 140 characters long. I have also described myself.)

So what is my point?  That which forces us to change when we are not ready generates push back. This has nothing to do with what is right or wrong. It is simply the nature of change. To express this in scientific terms, “to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Newton’s Law of Motion applies to education as how we teach and learn cannot be separated form the context of our rapidly changing technological world.


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