I’m feeling much better after that bout of the flu. My son is feeling a bit better, too. His 6 month dental check up went so well that it took less than 20 minutes. He’s a biter and a fighter. Because of this, the dentist decided it would be best if we countinued with how we did it before. I hold him as he is leaned back across the dentist’s lap and the doc goes to work while I keep the tot’s hands out of the way. It wasn’t easy, but it was quick and thorough. His teeth are healthy, perfectly spaced, and strong! He got a prize for being a big brave boy and off we went. In and our in a grand total of 19 minutes!
So there’s the life update. Now on to content that’s been weighing on my thoughts recently.
Over the last few months I’ve been conversing on a forum with a young man aged 17. I’ve made it known that I am nearly 30, married, and with a kid. There is only friendly comraderie between us. I’m not going to go into great length or detail of the things that we discuss, but he’s going through a really confusing and hard time.
See, the age gap is important here in that I’ve been where he’s been recently enough to be able to relate better than those older than I am. Better able to relate even than my nearest older sibling (5 year gap between me and my next oldest sibling. A 2 or 3 year gap between her and the sister I kicked out last year). It’s also important because my age grouping grew up in a period I personally call the “Social Transition”. My parents grew up in the age where you still had to actually interact with people in a more personal manner. Such as speaking in person or on the phone. The generation that comes after me is raised in a time where you hand a toddler an iPad and they seem to instinctively know what to do with it. Raised on technology so they see no issues or problems with it. They see it all as quite normal.
Yes, this is one of those “old people” rants, I guess. Anyway, this young man is from an age group that all social interaction is done through technology. Where your internet friends are pretty much your only “True” friends. I grew up in a time where we saw the transition, were part of the transition, from personal interaction to faceless interaction with complete strangers. Personally I don’t see that as a problem, as even in my childhood we did this. It was called pen-pals. We could become best friends with someone clear across the globe through letters and packages only. So it’s not a wholly new thing, merely the method and ease with which it can be done. THAT is what I take issue with. And cases like the young man I’ve been talking to highlight this problem for me.
This young man got into an argument with one of his internet friends. As a result, the entirety of the rest of that circle of friends no longer speak to him, and he has become isolated from them. Further attempts to talk to others not associated with that group have all ended in disaster. Through our conversations back and forth, he has expressed that he doesn’t really have friends outside his internet life. He’s got a few, but all attempts to meet with them and hang out fall flat. He feels completely isolated from the world now, due to a single argument with that 1 internet friend.
Now, while losing friends at his age is a normal process – he’s on the cusp of adolecense and is about to transition into early adulthood; about to leave gradeschool and enter into college or the work force – it’s normal to lose contact with others as they are going through the same process. But the lack of personal communication and interaction skills has in the past generations shown to hinder rather than help. And this has become even more apparent in my own generation and the one that comes after me. We have a difficult time dealing with people because we take the easiest route possible – dealing with people online who, if we have a problem, simply ignore them and cut them off. Cut them out. So that when faced with the problems of dealing with real people in the real world, we can’t just do that. We can’t just ignore them or cut them out or block them. We are forced to deal with them – and often have much difficulty doing so, lacking the experience that we should have built up at that point.
While technology, in and of itself is a good thing. Progress in and of itself is a good thing. Without them we would be unable to do many of the things we do today. We would be unable to communicate across the globe as easily or effectively. However, it has also stunted our normal development. Now young people are investing so much time and energy into internet relationships that often those in the real world that also need attention and nurturing are damaged or simply do not develop. We are losing our interpersonal skills. And it’s getting more and more obvious as time wears on.
I’m not calling for completely abandoning technology and social media and all that. I’m simply suggesting that we need to balance the value we place on it with our everyday real-world based lives. Moderation in this, like in all things, is key to being able to be happy with or without it.
As for the young man, he’s doing alright. It’s hard for him sometimes to understand that what he’s going through is actually quite normal for his age, but he’s working through it. He doesn’t really have anyone other than his parents to talk to about things, but when I’m like “I honestly don’t know. I think you should really talk to your mom and dad about this. They’ll be able to explain it/help you with/find out/etc. better than I can.” he’s got no problems doing just that. He’s also learning to work on himself rather than dwell on what he doesn’t have anymore, and is rebuilding his confidence and self-worth now that it’s no longer based solely on what a small group of people online think of him.
Anyway, that is what’s been on my mind lately.