Observations by an insightful parent.
We have friends from
South America staying with us – two parents and two teenagers, a boy and girl. Within five minutes of arriving the young man set up his mobile phone, hooked into a PC tablet for power, and was ever after immersed in texting to friends thousands of miles distant. His father, an educated, thoughtful business man and political figure said that even if his son’s messages were intercepted, the surveillance officers would not easily understand the conversations because that age group abbreviate, use slang and no longer apply grammatical structure – as we elders did and do – rendering their texts almost incomprehensible.
Like Proust, the young man writes a stream of consciousness which might not contain a verb, subject or object for many pages. In the context of Professor Susan Greenfield’s theory that computer memory and internet data are a giant evolutionary step for mankind, dispensing with the need to learn anything by rote, the father is forming a theory that the electronic revolution could be liberating previously untapped, constrained and restricted intelligent and creative potential, denied to previous generations – reared in the strait-jackets of sombre, sober, perhaps stultifying received wisdom. He observed that today’s generations live in a very different place to us older, mature souls and that they are so disinterested in our “old” value systems and work and social structures that they simply ignore current politics, business and organisations; and ignore our presumptions, assumptions, prejudices, fears and, of course, our advice.
We, elder statesmen, agreed that not only did our children and grandchildren use the new technologies a thousand times faster then we are able to – but they appear to do so without learning processes that we can identify – and they are universally incapable or unwilling to explain intellectually. These futuristic skills seem to be absorbed through their skins and exist in their hands. Verbalising and defining in old fashioned terms seems to be unnecessary and sabotages the processes. They are applying playful instinct where we would grind through dull educational courses.
For the future – it is conceivable that this quite different method of mobilising our brains will create novel solutions and initiatives that all generations to date have not dared to allow into our socio-economically trained minds. To those of us berated, beaten and honed to be good, compliant and useful citizens through effort, pain and discipline this new way of, in our terms, “playing” with the new and ever changing technological gizmos, forming ephemeral, constantly communicating networks that transcend all geographic, time and class boundaries, could be not just “one giant leap for mankind” but the donning of ten-league boots to set us (or them) racing into the near and far future at speeds and in directions beyond all our past dreams.
But can they also tie their own shoe laces? (Sorry – Velcro straps).
30 April 2012.