Dang Kids And Their New-Fangled Gizmos

We live in an amazing time.
Really, we do.
There’s a new technological marvel every week.
For once we’re discovering new species quicker than known ones are going extinct.
We can do things on computers that we never dreamed of doing as little as ten years ago.
We should be living Science-Fiction right now.
Instead, New York State just released test scores from students showing poor grammar and math skills.
Pardon my French as I think about this for a minute and say “What the fuck?!?”

One would think that with all of these technologically advanced resources readily available that we’d be getting collectively smarter.
Well, if you thought that, then you’re apparently wrong.
Somehow our kids are getting dumber.

What?
Did I just hear somebody go and blame video games?
Really?
People are still singing that worn out old tune?
If you really want to blame video games go and protest something with the Westboro Baptist Church, because you’re just about as credible as they are.
Video games help fine tune our minds.
They excel at increasing hand eye coordination.
They regulalry exercise and strengthen our cognitive reasoning.
They develop our problem solving skills.
Although, video game use is at an all time high, our kids are still becoming dumb.

Now, this may not be the correct answer, but I have a feeling that I might be on to something here.
Follow me on this one.
Social Media is killing our brain cells quicker than arsenic laced moonshine.
Go ahead, frown, tell me I’m full of it.
I know that you’re reading this on a computer, a tablet, an e-reader, a phone, etc…
Just do me a favor and hear me out.
The scientists at the Cern Institute used social media long before it ever had a name.
They used it to keep in touch with each other and share their advancements without having to leave their labs and stop working.
College students used their computers to research work as well as keep in touch with family, friends, other students, and their teachers.
Businesses used it to update employees, reach out to consumers, cut down on paper, and make work easier.
These things were all improvements and beneficial.
With the advent of pages like MySpace and Facebook social media culminated in what appeared to be its ultimate role, a tool for bringing the world together.
It worked, too.
But something changed…and I don’t just mean the constantly changing faces of MySpace and Facebook as they keep trying to improve something that we don’t want improved.
Facebook, Google, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, and a score of others, made life easier.
We were finding people that we hadn’t talked to in years.
Meeting new people that we might have never spoken to before.
We were sharing our lives with the world, and it only took a handful of keystrokes.
It became easy.
That’s where I think that the problem started.

I blame Apple for the “Easy Revolution”
The iMac (or, as I liked to call it, the “Ugly Jellybean”) suddenly made the internet user friendly.
Before it, in order to use the internet you had to learn a little DOS, some http, how to play with your emacs.
By the time that you finally able to talk to real people you had earned it.
Then the iMac comes along and makes it as easy as plugging in and pushing a button.
So many people out there today know absolutely nothing about the technology they use.
That’s sad, really.
I have found that a little knowledge fosters respect for the item being used.
It makes you appreciate it a little more.
Instead, we may have made things too easy.

That easiness seems to have nurtured a growing laziness.
Kids don’t need to learn math skills when they have calculators built into their systems.
If they don’t know how to use the calculator they can always google it, or post a question to Yahoo Answers and let somebody else do the leg work.
While Twitter was meant to streamline information sharing by encouraging people to be concise and to the point by only allowing posts of 142 spaces, instead people started abbreviating words to get their point across.
This mimicked “Text Speak” because the formats were so similar.
Text Speak was a necessary evil.
Many people still pay for a limited amount of texts each month.
So, space is a commodity, and saving text space is frugal.
However, while saving money, Text Speak spread to other areas, not just Twitter (where it did make a certain amount of sense)
Text speak migrated to places like MySpace and Facebook, despite the larger allowances they granted for words.
When you combined this with people that already had problems with spelling and grammar, well, let’s just say it was like throwing oil on to the fire.
The problem only spread.
Facebook, in their efforts to be both pleasing and encouraging, made matters worse with the “Like” button.
It’s so much easier to hit “Like” than it is to actually type up thoughts on a status.
With actual responses one can tell if people agree with them, are offering support, or even just bullshitting them.
That damn “Like” button makes it seem like everyone agrees with you.
It does sound good, right?
What can be wrong with that.
It does seem relatively harmless, until a young skank goes all skankilicious in her status and gets 57 “Likes”.
That only keeps encouraging her to post more and more of the same deteritus (That means garbage, waste, refuse, trash, for all of you that have internet induced poor vocabulary).
It doesn’t just encourage the whores, it encourages anyone that’s negative.
It also encourages the idiots to keep spreading their idiocy.
Plus, it does also encourage people to share FAR too much about their lives.
It’s far too easy for any of us to fall into these traps.
And it seems like our kids are diving head first into these traps.

This is one of those times that we need to teach by example.
Many adults on Facebook have their kids, nieces, nephews, young cousins, or even friends’ kids on their pages.
Use Spell check.
Use Dictionary.com
Use Thesaurus.com
Put them right into your Favotites to make it a little easier.
Then show the kids how to use them.
Correct the kids (any of them, yours, your siblings’, and your friends’ kids) when they goof up.
Send the corrections in messages at first.
If they’re not more careful, do it right in the comment.
Embarassment is a great motivator at times.
Post more than just pictures.
I know it’s easy to post pictures and jokes.
They make you laugh, they make others laugh, and that’s all good.
Still, post something more than a canned statement.
Be real, be a person.
Share your thoughts, encourage others, reach out without compromising your intelligence ot integrity.
Let the kids learn that way.
Right now they’re mainly learning from each other.
We see how that’s going.

Remember this sage little bit from Two Broke Girls:
“Twitter is stupid, and Instagram is Twittwe for people that can’t read.”

Think about what that says about our information age.

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