The other day, I saw a young person struggling with putting his signature on a visitor’s sheet in a lobby of a secure building. He looked around apologetically and explained that his generation lives differently. According to him, young people do not need to use cursive handwriting or read boring books like the generations before. My mind got stuck on the idea of reading boring books. I asked him about it. Apparently, they are so busy with new technological devices and social media that they do not have any time to read, especially traditional boring literature. I was shocked listening to him. Maybe, I am becoming an old lady by saying the following, but my reaction was: What does this world coming to? A generation of people who think that reading “those boring books” their parents did is not important?!
I spent some time reflecting on social media. Of course, media gave people the power to express themselves. People have access to websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. They can have their own specially designed accounts. The information flows quickly. Youngsters are constantly in touch with each other, messaging each other. What is the price of this fast paced universe? Having reflected on the topic, I realized that this fast paced world seem to be closing in on them. Instead of widening their perspective, they are closed into their young world of endless gossiping, bullying, sensationalizing and meaningless chit-chatting most of the time. This narrow perspective of their world seems to take up so much time, with constant access to advanced technological devices at their fingertips, that it is no small wonder that they do not have time to read “those boring books”.
What is the result? Youngsters read less meaningful material. They are less inclined to read Shakespeare, Voltaire, Dostoevsky, Sagan or Borges, unless they are forced to in school. They are so busy with their closed little world of social media that they are losing out on the fantastic worlds of literature, philosophy, history, art and science. Although they have more specialized knowledge of the computer world, they certainly end up with less overall knowledge of the world. They are no longer well-rounded individuals.
Of course, technological devices and social media are not evil. They are necessary and good inventions. However, just like anything, they can be destructive in excess. Unfortunately, since young people barely have control over their appetite for pleasurable life, they do not know how to choose the middle path between lack and excess. Lost in the world of excess, they do not have the time to discover the rest of the world. They do not have the time for “those boring books”. They do not even have the time to practice cursive handwriting, so that they can properly sign their names on the visitor sheet.
I find this very disturbing and disheartening. I wish, there was a way to open up their enclosed world to discover the greater magic of life all around them.
M. J. Mandoki