The Abdication of Adults

A few paragraphs from an article on some of the effects of technology on our culture:

Contrary to claims that computer use enhances functional literacy, Bauerlein cites research suggesting that screen time actually inhibits language acquisition by limiting exposure to complex or unfamiliar words. Even “software god” Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, dismisses the world of blogs and gaming as “encapsulated entertainment”—adding, “If I was competing with the United States, I would love to have the students I’m competing with spending their time on this kind of crap.” So much for “digital intelligence,” says Bauerlein, if even technophiles recognize time spent at this generation’s idiot machines as largely wasted time.

But are the machines themselves the villains in this story? Could technology, on its own, spawn an entire mindless culture of flirting, gossiping, photo-uploading, and virtual navel-gazing—all in service of flipping off the phonies out there who don’t get that every passing emotion experienced by Tarquin D. Pebbleface and set down in textspeak is, like, “wry and hilarious,” dude? If, as Bauerlein claims, “the genuine significance of the Web to a seventeen-year-old mind” is “not the universe of knowledge brought to their fingertips, but an instrument of non-stop peer contact”—well, how did we get here?

The answer lies in the same dismal territory already traversed by Diana West in her recent book The Death of the Grownup: the wholesale abdication of adults, not only parents but teachers, in favor of adolescent self-government—a culture that nurtures its present at the expense of its past.

via Take Your Vitamin Z (Please read the whole article. It’s long but so worth it.)

This “abdication of adults” is something that has been grating on me for a while. It seems like this rejection of responsibility is at fault for so many cultural fallacies in modern day America.

The one that springs to mind most forcibly is abortion. There is a tremendous amount of sexual irresponsibility that occurs in most relationships. People want to feel good and they don’t want to deal with the natural consequences of their actions. Namely, people like sex, but don’t want the kids. So they kill their children. I realize that the issue of abortion is multifaceted, but through all of my thinking on the subject I cannot find a more fundamental problem than the avoidance of responsibility.

I am also concerned with how folks don’t appreciate responsibility. I recently transitioned from life in a classroom to the working world. This transition has been painful at times, and almost always difficult, but I have learned to love responsibility through it all. The maturity that comes as a result of responsibility is exactly how I want to be growing and improving my own life.

It makes me so sad when I see people who have no desire to grow, to better themselves, to pursue some goal, to accomplish some purpose. What is life without these things? Your thoughts?


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