Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

EXPLAINING THE 'SPHERE....LizardBreath asks:

I've got a question for the married/long-term-involved commenters, particularly those who, like me, are either slightly too old or way too old to be part of the Facebook/Myspace/Twitter/Whatever generation where everyone's used to conducting their social life online. What does your spouse know about Unfogged, and how much of an effort of it was to convey it?

Answer: nothing, and therefore, it was no problem.

On the other hand, explaining this very short comment to my sister was a real pain. First you explain that the president does a radio address every week and that the Democrats get to give one too. And that particular week the Dems chose to talk about SCHIP — detour here for a nickel summary of what SCHIP is — and that furthermore, in an effort to be cute, they chose a 12-year-old named Graeme Frost to deliver their speech. Deep breath. And then a bunch of right-wing bloggers went crazy, because SCHIP has eligibility requirements and they suspected that Graeme's family didn't comply and the whole thing was a gigantic DNC scam. And one of the craziest of them, Michelle Malkin, decided to visit the father's rental property and then drive by his house to take a close a look at the Frost family lifestyle. And that's why there's a joke about Michelle Malkin "keeping a vigilant(e) eye on Mr. Drum's household."

Anyway, after all that everyone is exhausted and realizes that asking questions about the blog is way too much trouble. What normal person wants to sit through an explanation like that just to understand some offhand one-line joke?

As for the Facebook/Myspace/Twitter/Whatever generation, the part I don't get is not that they live out much of their social lives online. That's easily graspable. The part that boggles me is that, at least for many of them, they literally seem to want to be in touch with their social network every single minute. What does that mean for the future of Western civilization?

Kevin Drum 2:24 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (67)

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I don't know. I'll have to consult my social network and get back to you. Of to twitter.

Posted by: IMU on November 13, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Then there are those of us who can't afford to have our real identities known, lest we face a multitude of retaliatory attacks from wingnuts or crazies.

Aren't we about due for another "who are you" type thread where everyone can leave a short bio about their education, profession, etc.? I know some of our previously identified loonies have changed their handles and have tried to recreate themselves as some new entity.

I don't talk about what I do here. I get enough blank stares as it is.

Posted by: Pale Rider on November 13, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

It means that social lives become more and more important - higher priority - thus moving other things (which are actually, in the greater scheme of things) more important, to lower priority. SciFi nightmare. Think deep-slumber super-recliners and digital interfaces jacked straight into our neural pathways...

Posted by: gkoutnik on November 13, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The part that boggles me is that, at least for many of them, they literally seem to want to be in touch with their social network every single minute

It boggles me as well. I just don't get it.

Posted by: Jenna's Bush on November 13, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think I understand why Kevin is confused about newby/boppers wanting to be in touch with their social network every single minute. That is normal for tweens/teens and early 20 somethings. Back when I was a young dinosaur (pre-intertoobz) the networking was done over the telephone.

I think Kevin's problem is that all he has experienced is cats - creatures not particularly keen on social networking, except maybe with little mousies or birdies and then it is a 1 way street (in the cat's favor).

Posted by: optical weenie on November 13, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

The part that boggles me is that, at least for many of them, they literally seem to want to be in touch with their social network every single minute. What does that mean for the future of Western civilization? —Kevin Drum

When (if?) they grow up, it has no meaning for Western Civ. Those that can't quite seem to find a real social network vs. the on line, imaginary social network of 500+ "friend," will drift into lives of quiet desperation.

Posted by: JeffII on November 13, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

just to understand some offhand one-line joke?

Clearly a very witty joke - both topical and biting to those goofy wingnuts...yes?

Oh, and my spouse thinks I'm nuts wasting time with political blogs. After the last 6+ disastrous years, I tend to agree.

Posted by: ckelly on November 13, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly: Well, you caught my sister's attention!

Posted by: Kevin Drum on November 13, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Simple. Eventually, we will just be Borgs

Posted by: DR on November 13, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie: Good point about teenagers monopolizing the telephone in an earlier pre-cell era. But my impression is that this kind of obsessive socializing didn't last much past 18 or so back in prehistoric times, whereas now it lasts well into the 20s.

True? Or am I misremembering or misinformed?

Of course, in some industries this is standard behavior anyway. Maybe social networking sites are turning us into a nation of movie executives?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on November 13, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The part that boggles me is that, at least for many of them, they literally seem to want to be in touch with their social network every single minute. What does that mean for the future of Western civilization?

It means we're friggin' doomed...

Posted by: animaux on November 13, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I've given up explaining this to my spouse. She's sure I'm in here looking at naked people all day. Come to think of it...I'm outta here!

Posted by: thersites on November 13, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

But my impression is that this kind of obsessive socializing didn't last much past 18 or so back in prehistoric times, whereas now it lasts well into the 20s.

Maybe because the new technologies make it easier to stay in continual contact, the phase lasts longer.

Posted by: thersites on November 13, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's the ultimate party-line: multimedia, new friends by the minute, convenient anonymity if/when desired, all the PDA features that adults enjoy on their belt clips. No surprise to me.

I have a MySpace site -- just to keep tabs on my kids' pages. I'm sure my site is the butt of their jokes, but it gives me access into their world, whereas I otherwise would not.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on November 13, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

What does that mean for the future of Western civilization?

We'll all become baseball cap wearing blogofascists like that young whippersnapper Ezra Klein.

And some of us will have multiple personalities. [What do you mean? --ed.] I wasn't talking about YOU, Kaus. [Well, I'm still with you on the whippersnapper thing --ed.] Word.

Posted by: Royko on November 13, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Y'all are lucky having uninterested spouses. Mine is into politics and wants a frequent summary of what's happening on the blogs. Sometimes I tell him, and other times I courteously suggest he take a look for himself, which he laughs and then does. He still doesn't post much, though.

Posted by: shortstop on November 13, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm 40 but college is still very vivid. In fact, most of what I specifically remember is the social networking, but it was done IN PERSON. In fact, I don't recall much phone use. Instead we evolved customary meeting times and events. For example, "everyone" went to a certain bar on a certain night. There was a specific campus location for Wednesday lunch gatherings. Most people I know were in a few clubs that met regularly. And let's not forget roommates and people who dropped by. So, my question for the college-set is has digital replaced the physical or enhanced it?

Posted by: Bush Lover on November 13, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

At age 15 I once was on the phone for 7 hours straight. No one could understand it. Now I can't stand the thing and won't answer it. I think this is more related to age than generation.

Posted by: The House Whisperer on November 13, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

It means a loss of creativity, which comes from the real world down time of goofin off, creating for no other reason than your interest in it.

Posted by: Khan is Gone on November 13, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I got an e-mail from my youngest about the college paper's article (on-line) on a similar topic. I thought this was interesting.

In October 2005, porn sites accounted for 16.9 percent of all site visits in the United States, but now account for only 11.9 percent, a 33 percent decline.

Social networks rank first among Web sites visited by users ages 18-25, notably Facebook, which has a corner on the market, with 85 percent of students at four-year colleges as members

But for this crowd, keep in mind that while politics may interest you,the rest of the voters are otherwise occupied?

pornographic Web sites are still highly ranked among users over the age of 25, second only to search engines

Posted by: TJM on November 13, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I think that the constant social networking that 20 somethings feel is necessary to their lives is because they aren't being as challenged by work or school as we were when we were young dinosaurs. Kids these days don't have to work, parents seem quite happy to let them sit a home, as opposed to going out and working at a relatively low paying job. And the curricula at most colleges and universities is NOT as intellectually demanding as it used to be - students these days want all their learning to be like watching a sit com - 20 min attention span is about all you can expect to get these days.

Thersites,
Tell your wife that you are enjoying the pussies here at Political Animal!

Posted by: optical weenie on November 13, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

My kids in college (esp. #2 son) are bloggy sorts, so we have the kinds of discussions with my wife, about SCHIP and such, that Kevin describes. Painful, because we speak a sort of shorthand (the Malkin-under-the-bed stuff) that just flies by her. It's really a sort of inside baseball that often is, on examination, of less than overwhelming substance.

Posted by: David in NY on November 13, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY,
If I were one of your children (and you can thank whoever that I am not) I think I would be a tad insulted if my Dad called me a bloggy sort!

Posted by: optical weenie on November 13, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"The part that boggles me is that, at least for many of them, they literally seem to want to be in touch with their social network every single minute."

This hardly surprises me. Before Facebook et al. got big, I had already noticed that whenever I was at the neighborhood watering hole and a group of college kids came in, half of them would immediately whip out their cell phones to immediately let all their other friends know where they were at. But then... they never put their damn phones away. Rather than talk to the people on the other side of the table, they just kept dialing numbers and asking wazzup.

Posted by: somewhere in 10025 on November 13, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm over 40 and on both Facebook & Twitter. If you work in the tech world, then no matter your age, you'd be a fool to not stay on top of current trends.

MySpace is lame though.

Posted by: lux on November 13, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Does it concern anyone here that political blog content is too confusing and complex to explain to our spouses - let alone to convey a meaningful message to inform the voting electorate?

Posted by: ckelly on November 13, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Does it concern anyone here that political blog content is too confusing and complex to explain to our spouses - let alone to convey a meaningful message to inform the voting electorate?
Posted by: ckelly

Yup. But I don't think this is means the world has changed. Remember, Nixon won his second term with the largest "landslide" to date.

Regardless of the fact that a lot of important information is literally at peoples' finger tips doesn't mean that most still aren't using the Internet(s) merely to daisy chain lame jokes or look at their houses on Google Earth.

Posted by: JeffII on November 13, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

"I would be a tad insulted if my Dad called me a bloggy sort!"

I dunno, you call yourself "optical weenie". ;-)

They'd know how to take it, anyway.

Posted by: David in NY on November 13, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of interesting points here. optical weenie makes a great point that teens historically have tried to obsessively keep in contact with their "social network", and online peer groups are just one of the latest ways of doing that. However, as Kevin alludes to, there do seem to be more adults engaging in this behavior now than ever before.

My guess is the anonymity plays a large part, not only anonymity regarding identity, but anonymity regarding age. I know a number of adults, both male and female, who spend quite a bit of time on MySpace, Facebook, etc, and I can't believe that other members know their age. Maybe it's a way of reliving one's adolescence.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on November 13, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Unfogged? Am I the only one who can't follow this post? First a reference to facebook type things --- is Unfogged some kind of version for older people? --- then a non sequitur long anecdote about the SCHIP Democratic response controversy, which ends with some kind of punchline apparently connecting Kevin Drum, though damned if I can see why. Then back to a different comment on the Facebook stuff....?????

Posted by: catherineD on November 13, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: somewhere in 10025

How are things on the Upper Westside these days? Gentrification continues apace?

Posted by: JeffII on November 13, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of years ago I started sending care packages to a platoon of soldiers in Iraq. Shortly after I started, their sergeant set up a group page on My Space and invited all of us sending packages to join. (I joined My Space, so that I could read their page, but I did not join the group. I was about 40 years older than they were.)

The platoon consisted of all men, some more computer proficient and verbal than others. What amazed me was the response that one of the men got from his friends at home. He had a girl friend, but seemed to be quite social and had over 100 friends. So many of the girls posted provocative photos and suggestive comments that enraged his girl friend. It was like watching a train wreck. It did not end well.

All the time, I kept thinking that before the internet this instant manipulation and cruelty would not have been possible.


Posted by: emmarose on November 13, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

My kids are chronic Facebook/MySpace junkies and being somewhat of a tech head myself, I can't criticize them too much, but I see some interesting dynamics in today's youth. A couple of stories will illustrate:

- A friend of mine who is a partner in a large CPA firm hired a recent college graduate. A week later, he hired another recent graduate. The first grad, came to him after he made the second job offer and asked why he hadn't been asked to interview the second.
- The same fellow refused to hire another grad, who had a 3.9 GPA and 31 ACT score, because she brought her mother to the job interview!
- My own 19 year old son came home from college and sat around for two months. I got tired of asking him if he was looking for work. His reply was always "well, I applied on-line". He finally got a job that a friend's dad offered him. The Web got him squat.

I'm not sure the exact moral of these stories, other than (1) kids nowadays are highly dependent on the Internet for everything they do and, (2) they feel a need to be plugged into everything, even when it makes no sense for them to be....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 13, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Spouse hates that I spend any time thinking, writing or discussing politics in person or on the internets. I like to say everything is politics, but sports is important, too.

I have never been to Facebook or any other networking site, so I am unfamiliar with those communities or what the positive reinforcements for their users are. Do people actually make real relationships at them?

The PA community is not about social networking, so I do not think its community of commenters can be an example of what happens at those other sites. I am impressed with Blue Girl, Red State's ability to network here though.

Posted by: Brojo on November 13, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I know plenty of people well into their thirties that do this, so I don't think it can just be blamed on 'youth'.

Posted by: HoLynn on November 13, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I got my mom reading Firedoglake a few months ago. She loves politics and it seemed like the right combination of fiesty posters and nice commenters. Now when we talk on the phone she mentions this or that post on "the blog." FDL is "the blog" (she knows there are others but not really for her).

DH might listen politely while I explained something like the Michelle Malkin stalkerama, but he wouldn't really be interested.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on November 13, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

catherineD: I was puzzled by this at first, too, until I recognized Kevin's description of trying to explain an "insider" comment (one that was funny if you're attuned to a particular political issue and the activities of wacko bloggers of the right) to someone who didn't follow the "insider" stuff on political blogs.

Then I realized that he was making the point that lots of people don't understand what other people are doing on the internet, and asking, since he didn't understand it, why the heck are they obsessed with the social network sites? (The answer may be: to each her own obsession.)

Not one of Kevin's best, or clearest, posts, I grant you.

Posted by: David in NY on November 13, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

I see good + bad things about all this political blogging. On one hand, it has the potential- note, I say potential- to get people more politically-involved. On the other hand, part of the definition of 'potential' means 'not there yet.'

What the blogosphere seems best at is creating a new crop of blovators, perhaps one which is less indebted to the status quo than that working for the MSM, but not really doing anything.

I'm hardly innocent in this. But, I'm trying to make my online involvement 'real.' I am host of a Drinking Liberally chapter, call my representatives enough to probably be on several Enemies Lists, and am trying to join my local Democratic committee.

Blogging is all well and good, but, if we want to make a difference, we have to take all this passion + move it to the off-line world.

Note that I didn't call it the 'real world,'
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on November 13, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's McLuhan 101. He wasn't kidding.

Posted by: Bob M on November 13, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Sixty minutes had a story this week about the “millennials”, aka the “me” generation. It largely matched the experience of my spouse, who hires student workers for her university office. Oversimplified, the younger generation is far more likely to be concerned about “me”, and have trouble understanding why they have to get to work on time, not play video games at work, etc. While my generation couldn’t wait to get out in the world, it is now viewed as a good deal to move home after college. Success is sometimes viewed as an entitlement rather than something that takes hard work and a bit of luck. There is a good side to not being too work obsessed, but in the long run it is difficult to see how such an ethic will allow us to compete economically with the rest of the world. It will be interesting see how the millennials’ attitudes evolve as they get older and acquire mortgages to pay and families to support. On the other hand this may just all be a classic case of “old fartism” - our elders certainly had serious concerns about our generation.

Posted by: fafner1 on November 13, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Since when did it become fashionable to use the word spouse instead of husband/wife, as in so many posts above?

Posted by: gregor on November 13, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

gregor,

I suspect it's part of a general trend toward non gender specificity. I do it myself, but it can be overdone. e.g. when I wrote upthread "my spouse thinks I'm in here looking at naked people" everyone probably knew I meant "my wife thinks I'm in here looking at naked women" but somehow it seemed less objectionable. Go figure.

Posted by: thersites on November 13, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

About 10 years ago, didn't you get the memo?

Seriously, husband & wife tend to carry some baggage from the traditional roles. With same sex marriages the whole role issue gets more complicated. Are lesbian partners both wives? Gay partners both husbands? Spouse is innocuously neutral.

Posted by: fafner1 on November 13, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Since when did it become fashionable to use the word spouse instead of husband/wife, as in so many posts above?

Since I found out around 1990 that it drives (mostly male) Republicans (not that I'm accusing you of being one) absolutely crazy online. They can't stand not having the demographics up front. I've actually had wingers demand to know my gender, race, sexual orientation, state of residence, profession and religion before they'll proceed with talking to me. One called it "establishing my credentials."

Among the posts above, mine at least contains the clues "he" and "him," which tells you I'm either a married straight woman or a married gay man, neither of which generally rates high on the list of "credentials" as defined by male Republicans. Well, I could also be a bi woman married to a man, which would put me very high in the interest rankings for winger men--but sadly, they would be unable to admit it.

Anyway, the serious answer is that there are lots of places online in which it can be useful not to advertise one's gender. This isn't really one of them, but I'm kind of in the habit now.

Posted by: shortstop on November 13, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

David -- thanks. I was in the same boat as Catherine.

Shortstop -- I've had a winger quiz me about my sex continuously until he gave up and concluded I was a woman. Then I told him otherwise and he got pissed and refused to continue the conversation as if I'd betrayed his trust. (In retrospect, I believe the thought that he might be chatting with a woman was getting him excited.)

Posted by: Boronx on November 13, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I'm one of those who you were referring to. I mean, WTH was Unplugged all about? After spending a few minutes scanning through it, I'm at a total loss. It took a couple minutes to figure out what Kevin meant about the MM comment, even after I clicked the link. And this whole post confused me greatly, though the comments have been a hoot. Guess I make a poor geek.

When I look around, I don't think this is just a young person, generation gap thing. How many middle aged people do you know who are constantly on their cell phones, for example? I go to quite a few face to face discussion groups, & without fail, someone is answering their cell phone during the discussion, ala Rudy. How freaking rude! Talk about the ME generation - there seems to be no age limit. We seem to be turning into a selfish, selfcentered culture, which is not good.

BTW, this carrys to the extremes of text messaging while driving. How stupid can we be?

Posted by: bob in fla on November 13, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

I say hold dearly to your privacy and beware of what could bite you in the behind.
Time and length of service teach this factoid.

Posted by: consider wisely always on November 13, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

What bothers me so much about Myspace / Facebook etc. is not just the constant connection, but the self-advertisement, as it were creating a fake issue of Vanity Fair (or Us magazine, I guess, depending on your sophistication and production values) about yourself, complete with your own papparazzi.

Senior year yearbook all over again, only continuously. I HATED doing my senior year yearbook page and expended as little effort on it as possible; I still wish it would disappear.

I'm sure that there are Myspace / Facebook sub-communities whose users are not like this, but I haven't the stomach to search the sites to find them.

Posted by: sara on November 13, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Can't think about the social networking trend without thinking about the impact on privacy.

At least one government official seems to suggest users are giving it up, so why is anyone worried about the government and corporations monitoring them?.... see links below.

It makes it harder for people to enjoy Facebook, etc... plus the day will come when Supreme Court Justice nominees up before the Senate and those running for public life will be asked what their Facebook "pimp name" is/was. That day will come. It is inevitable...

In due time, it will be too hard not to be able to find only justices who didn't use Facebook as teenagers. Detailed aspects of their past thoughts as teens may be discussed on the record... it's eerie...

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/12/an-intelligence-officials-privacy-proposal/?hp

and

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Terrorist-Surveillance.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Posted by: i could use a clever name on November 13, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Now that I've over forty, it's kind of amusing to see how every generation feels the need to label the prior generation and act like they're the end of civilization as we know it.

My take on it is very simple: most people are -- and always have been -- stupid and obnoxious by nature, however, some learn to be less so as they grow older. Hence, the young always seem a touch stupider (though also more imaginative and energetic).

The one thing that certainly does seem truer is that we're all taking a lot longer to grow up and adolescence can now extend well into the fifties. So there's that.

Posted by: Bob on November 13, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in my late 20s but a college instructor so I feel like I have some insight into the Facebook/MySpace/etc thing. I made a Facebook page myself, out of a desire to have some way to connect to my students mainly -- announcing events via Facebook is even more efficient than email, much of the time, and it makes me appear much more approachable to have one -- and though I don't spend much time on it, I've noticed a few things:

1) As several other people have stated, this isn't all that different from previous generations talking on the phone all the time. I'm not sure it's actually more excessive than that was -- it LOOKS more excessive, but that's because it's so much easier now to communicate far more widely. In the 80s, if you wanted to tell 10 people about your upcoming party you'd have to make 10 phone calls; now you can spend 10 seconds posting on Facebook. So the same amount of time spent socializing, now, translates to making more updates and less time actually spent "out of touch."

2) In keeping with that, it's much easier to use Facebook-type things in a multi-tasking way... many people check out Facebook while simultaneously IMing someone, watching TV, and warming up dinner. So, again, it looks like "more time" is spent socializing, but I'm not sure you can equate them that well.

3) Anytime anyone decides that civilization is doomed because of the way the current generation does things, I have a very hard time taking them seriously. Hopefully that was a joke. :)

Posted by: Forza on November 13, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

A few added notes: "BTW, this carrys to the extremes of text messaging while driving. How stupid can we be?" A bit north of here, five promising young people were killed when the phone of the driver of their van was sending a text message to another friend. My son says some operate the keyboard with the thumb of one hand, but -- driving at night on curving two-lane highways??

The cellphone has made it impossible for anyone under the age of 25 to make a plan in advance.

Kudos to you guys who have the guts to chat with wingnuts online.

The young people I meet who are working as paralegals or law students in a public-interest law office do not fit the profile of those noted above -- self-important, feeling entitled, living at home, taking mom to the interview, or the like. They are terrifyingly competent and nice and cute. Oh to be young!

Posted by: David in NY on November 13, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! This weird post is still getting comments!

Posted by: David in NY on November 13, 2007 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

"will be asked what their Facebook "pimp name" is/was"

A word to the wise. An awkward young fellow who was at my office for a time got a really bad reputation immediately when someone looked up his Facebook entry and found it expressed a proclivity for "muff diving," whatever that is. Careful, everybody.

Posted by: David in NY on November 13, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I don't think it's really going to be that much of a problem and here's why. When I first started going to bars (and now I'm maybe giving away my age) MTV was the big thing and it was playing on the TVs in bars and everyone would spend a big part of their night staring at the screens playing Michael Jackson and J. Geils Band (!) and etc etc. Guess what, no one would waste more than 5 seconds looking at a music video playing on a bar TV today. Thing like this are huge when they first happen - then they quickly fade away into being just another media thing. Same with Facebook/MySpace and blah blah blah.

Posted by: ugh on November 14, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Really, I have no idea what "muff diving" is. Honest. Oh crap! Here comes the spouse!

Posted by: thersites on November 14, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

The cellphone has made it impossible for anyone under the age of 25 to make a plan in advance.

Everyone is like that now, old and young.

The scene:
65 year old boss planning a meeting on the road.

Boss: We'll meet off of exit so and so in Nowheresville

Me: Where should we meet, when?

Boss: Around 10.

Me (looking for intersection on google maps): OK, but where?

Boss: Anywhere. Just give me a call.

Me: I don't have a cell phone.

Boss (pausing): You'll have to ride with someone who does.

I tried for a while longer to get some agreement to peg the spot because I wanted to drive up myself. We could have picked any old fast food joint or gas station to meet at, but nobody would commit to anything.

Posted by: Boronx on November 14, 2007 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

I'm an older 20-something. Married. Have a career.

While I'm too old for the Facebook/Myspace generation, I've been on LJ for a long time. Scarily a long time.

From being on the front edge, it's my contact with my community, my social network. It's the same as going to the bowling league to maintain contact, except in this case my social league is scattered geographically. Even if they are in this state, it's still an hour-hour and a half to get to them.

I've got very few friends who are purely electronic, i.e., I've never had a face-to-face (FtF) meeting with them; but I have a large number where 90% of our interactions are electronic.

So much of our society is becoming more compartmentalized, and it was doing that long before I became an adult, where we become physically isolated from our immediate environment, I'm not sure if this is a result of, or a reaction of that effect, but it is my way of maintaining my social network, the social network that almost all psych books state keep you sane in times of stress and need.

---

Now as far as the "millennial" generation goes, well I graduated college in '01, so I'm not sure whether I qualify for that, but anecdotally, the only friends who moved back home after college were those who were trying to save costs while going to grad school or those who couldn't find a steady paying job that pays well enough in this high cost of living area (National Capital Region). Yes they could move, and thus further separate themselves from their social network, and [Sarcasm]we know that's always a net positive. [/Sarcasm]

Posted by: Decided FenceSitter on November 14, 2007 at 6:37 AM | PERMALINK

From just over the old fart side of the divide, texting and cell-phoning constantly looks not only bewildering, but maddening. There was a generation that spent all of its youth on the phone, but it wasn't possible to do that while sitting in class or at most workplaces. The technology required that the phoning be done at home. Now, as a teacher, I try to tell these whippersnappers just how insulting it is to most of their teachers that they are texting under the desk during a class discussion. They will reluctantly comply with a rule, but they don't get what I'm saying about alienating the people who grade them. "Okay, whatever, this is me, turning off the cell phone," one of them recently told me. The sarcasm there tells the story -- I'm not paid to be her nagging parent, I'm trying to deliver a good learning experience. Dag-nammit.

On the positive side, one day there was a loud student event outside making it hard to hold class. Suddenly the music's volume dropped. One of my students sent a text to the organizers that they should turn it down.

Kids these days. Good and bad, like always.

Posted by: rm on November 14, 2007 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

hehe, Boronx, I've only had that with my kids.

and one can't be too careful on the web, thersites. I will deny to the end that I had any idea what that was about (at least one other member of the family reads this blog occasionally and knows my screen name).

Posted by: David in NY on November 14, 2007 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"and to be cute, they used a 12 year old..."

Hmmmm. Shades of Rush telling a tale?

Am still trying to get a grasp of Shortstop being in a Habit.

Posted by: bert on November 14, 2007 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

the word spouse instead of husband/wife

Spouse is used in comments to keep sexual identity anonymous for those with asexual handles.

Posted by: Brojo on November 14, 2007 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, all I was doing with 'spouse' was addressing a mixed audience of men and women, some of whom have husbands and some of whom have wives -- it's just shorter than 'husband or wife.'

Posted by: LizardBreath on November 14, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I have been thinking about why I post on blogs and why it is important to me. It has led me to the Narcissus myth. Greeks are supposed to have invented the phonetic alphabet, which allowed people to write the way they spoke for the first time. Narcissus saw his own image and fell in love with himself.

I admit to loving to read my own comments and seeing my thoughts in text. In a way this is like seeing my reflection, a reflection I cannot see unless I write a comment. This probably explains why I enjoy responding to people who respond to my comments: it further illuminates me to myself.

I am not that familiar with the Narcissus myth, but wonder if it might not have been the Greeks' way of complaining about people spending too much of their time writing and reading their thoughts with the new media of phonetic writing. The behavior is similar today, when older people remark about young people spending too much time on Facebook.

Facebook is a name that communicates a mirror-like reflection, and since its members spend a lot of time working on their images, I suspect it too is a Narcissistic act, but one created by html, not a phonetic alphabet. Text comments reflect my thoughts. A Facebook 'page' reflects so much more. I do not think the ancient Greeks would be surprised that people spend a lot of time recreating their images and thoughts on the internet.

Posted by: Brojo on November 14, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

People are turning into the Borg. Seriously.

Posted by: maryo on November 14, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm definitely older than the facebook generation, and I'm addicted enough as it is to my cellphone, email account, and political blogs. My friends and family rarely call or email, however, which is probably also generational (except for my 20-something kids, but they're not ultra-plugged in I don't think, anyway they never call or write). If they did, I'd probably be as bad as any 20-something. (Hmm. Maybe I ought to try this facebook thing. :-)

Posted by: susan on November 14, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

the new media of phonetic writing

Since I wrote the above, I have had images of young Greeks, mostly male, spending all of their time writing and reading each others writings. Like contemporary people did with html, the young Greeks developed new grammars and syntax to enhance the new medium. The new phonetic alphabet was probably adopted by the young, who spent too much time with what their elders would have considered a wasteful excercise that added nothing of value to the physical world. I doubt any of that early writing survived to be found by archeologists.

Posted by: Brojo on November 15, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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