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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Generation dumb

Generation Dumb consists of anyone born roughly between 1978 and 1996. Numbering 70 million in the U.S. and due to surpass the boomers in sheer numbers by 2010, Gen Dumb is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. And a lot of people are courageously trying. In the past year, on top of countless stories regarding the increased engagement of young people in this year’s presidential campaigns, major media outlets from the New York Times to Newsweek to 60 Minutes have put this generation under the microscope with unprecedented scientific scrutiny. A number of scholarly, stat-packed books have been published as well, and their authors have become the media’s favorite go-to persons to explain to bewildered parents, teachers, and employers what, exactly, is up with us.

Some have noticed an interesting trend: Observers tend to either love us or hate us. They’re either held aloft as the bright, tech-savvy, shining hope of humanity or dismissed as hopelessly narcissistic ignoramuses whose every posted YouTube comment should make them all bow their heads in shame. The truth, is more complicated than either extreme. They aren’t simply Gen Dumb, and they aren’t the messianic millennials either. They are Gen Y, a genuinely puzzling cultural variable, like Gen X before them, that has yet to be defined.

The way Bauerlein sees it, something new and disastrous has happened youth with the arrival of the instant gratification go-go-go digital age. The result is, essentially, a collective loss of context and history, a neglect of "enduring ideas and conflicts." Survey after painstakingly recounted survey reveals what most of us already suspect: that young people know virtually nothing about history and politics. And no wonder. They have developed a "brazen disregard of books and reading". Things were not supposed to be this way. After all, "never have the opportunities for education, learning, political action, and cultural activity been greater", But somehow the much-ballyhooed advances of this brave new world have not only failed to materialize -- they've actually made us dumber.

Friedman offered one of the most optimistic appraisals of this generation that I’d ever encountered. Describing it as an impressive and admirably “quiet” generation—due to both our silent determination to not let post-9/11 terrorism fears curtail our sense of freedom and our preference for keyboard-clicking internet activism over more vocal social engagements.

I don’t doubt the authenticity of Gen Y’s idealism and inspiration. Yet I do worry that as long as it remains circumscribed by the spheres of their narcissism, its real potential will never be revealed. The question is: Do they have what it takes to burst their bubbles? Can they finally get over themselves and start participating in life so fully, so unreservedly, that they remove any doubt as to where they really stand?

67 comments:

vainlikeyou said...

Maria, you say "we" but on your profile you claim to be 36. That means you are not apart of Gen Dumb. Please explain.

Mariana Soffer said...

Sorry, I did not correct the post before I printed it, it is a mix between distraction and second language issues.
Txs

the walking man said...

I think that finally "The Age of Aquarius" has happened or is happening. This generation Y has thrown out all of the old including the baby with the bath water.

I for one say good, well done, they/you are the ones who will have to live in the post transitional future and you/they will find your own way in what you decide to make of it.

But then, there will be, as there always has been, them who would rule in dominion. Them who seek not only political power but economic power over the majority.

If this new generation figures a wiser, more efficient way to deliver needs to itself; a way better than profit they will do well. If not they will fail as all before them have failed.

But there is the technology here now that may ensure their success in reordering to a more moderate place.

History though will be the final arbiter of the generations success or failure not the present day people looking and commenting.

JanetK said...

As a pre-babyboomer, I have heard all this before for 4 or so generations. I think what happens is that people over-estimate what they knew as a youngster (due to memory consolidation and re-consolidation) and they under-estitmate what the youngsters know now (due to actually not listening to them).
Examples: I learnt about the Wars of the Roses at about 13 and everything I have learnt about them since gets mixed in and I seem to have known a lot more than I possibly could at 13. On the other hand I don't listen to new music anymore, whether pop or classical, the new stuff seems like noise.
Older people like me should learn to see their own fobbles and not judge a whole generation of younger people.

Ariel_from_Plainsboro said...

Mariana: Just a couple of lines to say that it is too early to call a verdict on Gen Y. Assuming that a generation is an homogeneous collection of individuals with similar goals in life (clearly not), Gen Y may lack the street-wise knowledge and social skills, as well as a more classical erudition, of previous generations but that's a byproduct of the hypertechnologic environment that surrounds us today. Something got to give. Judging a generation dumb because they don't read (printed) books may be like judging the baby-boomers on their ability to ride horses.
So long and be well and happy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marian


As I told you in a private coffee, I do think that this generation has the serious problem that the huge quantity of communication, data and information neglects quality, involvement and engagement in public affairs.

Demand and supply: the more info, lesser quality. The cheapest the info, lesser appreciation. Think about our parent’s generation. What was the value of a textbook in a library? Huge, since they were very scarce. Today….. I just “Google”, copy paste the assignment and that’s it

To finish: I don’t think this is a major problem after all. “The value of a society is measured by the quality of its leisure, entertainment and joy”

Don físico said...

At first look, it seems to be (correct if I am wrong) that the "dumbness" of this generation have a correlation with digital technology. If that is the postulated case, I think that this is partally wrong. In my opinion the causes of the behaviour of the so called "dumb generation" has more to with other things, like the way they were raised and the point of view of the parents of the generation had of the society, education, politics, etc. I want to principally focus in what role had have the mother and father in the education of their own sons, the time they had dedicated to them compared to the time they had dedicated to other things like work, watching TV, buying, going to the gym. I mean that the priorities seems to have changed.
Saying that so, also I have to say that the decline of societies doesn't happens in an abrupt sudden way, it is more like a snowball from the past to the present. Stopping or at least slowing down the snowball is a question not only of realizing the problem (wich is yet a big problem itself because of the blind pride we all have), but also getting together to discuss and geting an agreement (the most difficult thing!!) of how to do it.

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Mariana, I haven't read Bauerlein's new book, but I suspect this is a question of him not "getting" the new multi-tasking paradigm that people of that generation are operating under. I base this opinion upon the people in their twenties that I employ, and especially upon watching my two sons who are now 26 and 28: I only wish that I was as intelligent, flexible, and of such diversified interests as this generation who cannot remember a time when there was no computer in the house.

And speaking of diversified interests, I had no idea you are such a young pup! I've been imagining that I've been talking to someone much closer to my own advanced years.

I see that someone has bought the URL generationdumb.com and plans to use it to display videos of young people doing stupid things. In that regard, this makes Mark Bauerlein look like the dumb one - if you're going to publish a book and promote a new catch phrase, the first thing you do is purchase the URL. Oops!

Rob

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Mariana, I haven't read Bauerlein's new book, but I suspect this is a question of him not "getting" the new multi-tasking paradigm that people of that generation are operating under. I base this opinion upon the people in their twenties that I employ, and especially upon watching my two sons who are now 26 and 28: I only wish that I was as intelligent, flexible, and of such diversified interests as this generation who cannot remember a time when there was no computer in the house.

And speaking of diversified interests, I had no idea you are such a young pup! I've been imagining that I've been talking to someone much closer to my own advanced years.

I see that someone has bought the URL generationdumb.com and plans to use it to display videos of young people doing stupid things. In that regard, this makes Mark Bauerlein look like the dumb one - if you're going to publish a book and promote a new catch phrase, the first thing you do is purchase the URL. Oops!

Rob

Nick said...

Interesting that IQs rise ten points every generation. I think this bizarre condemnation needs to confront cold, hard reality: we're smarter than you, deal with it.

It's hard to imagine anyone being dumber than the generation that decided to festoon the world with nuclear warheads.

Jessie Carty said...

i've always been a bit miffed by the generational debate. i had a manager at my previous job who was obsessively focused on gen x. these are our new customers...what do they want? you know they are this, that and he would list the stereotypes.

at one point i had to say to him- you do realize that three of your employees fall into gen x don't you? i don't really feel like i fit into what they described as gen x and both of my younger sisters fall into this gen y but they are so different personality and attitude wise that i can't imagine putting them in the same category.

so long story short? i have a problem with this blanket categories based on the year you are born. if we are gonna work in categories i'm more interested in seeing what the youngest conservatives and/or liberals think, something a little more focused.

good topic to bring up though. i just think gen y is too large of a pool to define them with just a few characteristics.

Id it is said...

I'd be curious to know how the word 'dumb' gets defined in this context... This group that you identify has the undistinct advantage of having a plethora of information but a click away. Also, given the large amount of technology and information available, there is healthy competitition in that market that keeps both information and the technology that disseminates it at cutting edge. Given this scenario it is hard to believe that people who live in this information rich environment can be dumb (dcitionary definition)! I would agree that they are a lot quieter and less social. This could again go back to the information technology boom that they have been born in; where is the need to socialize or even to compete or discuss when every question can get answered without looking for a human face. Also, the desire to be better/ more informed than the next person has significantly reduced and will continue to do so as information technology gets more widespread and less expensive. This far reaching technology boom has made us less os social beings for certain, but I wouldn't necessarily equate that with becoming 'dumber'...

Too long a comment...I apologize Mariana!

Mariana Soffer said...

the walking man
Interesting words to put that opinion in. Now that I know what the aquarious age refers to (see next comment), I think I agree with the start of it.

I agree with you that thinks are what you decide to make, that must be understood for as many people as possible, therefore more wisdom will be spread. That and the need to get together to do better and bigger things, the need to colaborate.
I agree in that the highest risk for the success of this age is the individual greed or profit seek, I would think that would not ever change, nontheless look at what happen with the crissis and how it is changing the way world behaves, maybe there is hope for us, will see. Another menace is also war and fighting, the nonsense death of some human beings by other begings of the same race.

I agree that it is not possible for people of their own age to judge it by themselves.

Thanks for your very interesting thoughts my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

here is the definition of the age of aquarious because I did not know what was it and maybe somebody else didn't:

The Age of Aquarius is one of the twelve astrological ages. According to astrologers, it is either the next age to come, or else it is the current age. Each astrological age is approximately 2,150 years long, on average, but there are various methods of calculating this length that may yield longer or shorter time
spans depending upon the technique used. Unlike sun-sign astrology where the first sign is Aries, followed by Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces whereupon the cycle returns to Aries and through the zodiacal signs again, the astrological ages proceed in the opposite
direction or order. Therefore the age before the Age of Aquarius is the Age of Pisces - the current age or eon. Following the Age of Aquarius will be the Age of Capricorn, then the Age of Sagittarius and so on.

Ages are believed by some astrologers to affect mankind while other astrologers believe the ages correlate to the rise and fall of mighty civilizations and cultural tendencies. Aquarius traditionally "rules" electricity, computers, flight, democracy, freedom, humanitarianism, idealists, modernization, rebels and rebellion, mental diseases, nervous disorders, and astrology.[4] Other keywords and ideas believed associated with Aquarius are nonconformity, philanthropy, veracity, perseverance, mankind and irresolution.[5] The appearance or elevation in status of many of these Aquarian developments over the last few centuries is considered by many astrologers to indicate the proximity of the Aquarian age. There is no uniform agreement about the relationship of these recent Aquarian developments and the Age of Aquarius. Some astrologers believe that the influence of a New Age is experienced before it arrives because of a cuspal effect or Orb of Influence. Other
astrologers believe the appearance of Aquarian developments indicate the actual arrival of the Age of Aquarius. 2012 marks the beginning of a new age.

Mariana Soffer said...

JanetK

It is true what you say, I think that olso old people probably underestimate young ones due to the fact that they do not understand the usefulness of their habilities, cause they do not have them. And young ones always have to rebel and therefor diminish how much older people value by diminishing what they know.

Interesting what you say about music, we should do some reseach about what causes it, I am curious, cause it is not the same with poetry or artistic movies. I am starting to stop listening to new stuff, do not want that to happen to me.

I agree with your ending, I think indeed that we all should learn to be more accepting of our differences, because even it does not look like, we are really discriminative.

Thanks a lot janet for the great comment.

Mariana Soffer said...

ariel
I think they are called generation just due to the age they where born, because of the times they live their life on, so it does not mean that all that belong to it are one way or another, it is just a way of saying the age they are from.

I agree what you say about reading books, it is like that, as I say before we should stop discriminating others for being or liking or doing different things or having different skills that the ones we do. And sadly the old generatiuon blames the new one of stupid and the same the other way arround, that is going on now, I hope people would learn that that does not lead to anywhere, it just makes it worst, they have to stop that thing, it is useless.

Thanks for your insights and thoughts, always a pleasure to have you here doctor.

Mariana Soffer said...

Anonymous
Hello my friend, sorry but I did not understood well your first sentence, it is the syntax I guess, so if I assume wrong please correct.
I remember that was your posture when we talk about it. I think you have an interesting view of things.

It is true what you say about prices, I was thinking that whatever internet touched it made it cheaper, like telephone, written communication, music, books, and so on.

Intresting never heart how society was measured, or could be measured for, I have no idea what I think about that statment, I guess I will incline myself to the wisdom of the comunity, but it is impossible the measurment of that, or maybe it is reflected on the statment you just said, I can not discern, but I will keep thinking about that.

Hugs and good luck my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Don físico
It is excelent what you are telling me, you mean that we need also to add context, to look at the culture and at the family to evaluate better these things. I agree completely, but I guess they do not do it cause it much more complex the task for it.
But the most important thing of what you said for me consist in analizing which ones are the values of the people and how did they change among the generations.

Yes, things do not happen from one day to the other, just like that, all of a sudden, (but some things do, like for the mayority of the population that did not see how the crisis was growing, maybe we should pay more attention to this thing). And I completelly agree that collaborating is a fundamental thing.

Bye bye

eva said...

'silence' not such a good thing in these times when 'free speech' is so needed. Generation Dumb--may get much less/more than anyone realizes if it doesn't learn how to 'speak'.

/t. said...

mariana,

i have two
lovely gen y daughters,
both are currently in college studying for life/careers

they are many things i and my wife are not -- some good, and maybe some not so good(?) -- but whatever else they may or may not be, they're not dumb -- gen y, yes, but not gen dumb

¤ ¤ ¤

/t.

paulandrewrussel said...

I'm classified as a Gen X child, and I believe we are probably the last generation who actually learned without the aid of technology; technology as we now know it.

There were no computers. Calculators were only invented when I was in high school. We read books. We were taught to think for ourselves and to solve problems using just our minds. Some we couldn't solve, but we kept trying.

Today's youngsters ( I'm finally old enough to say that lol) seem to be all about instant gratification, in everything. They ARE great at solving technological problems. Their brains appear to work much faster than ours in terms of hand-eye co-ordiantion and processing of vast amounts of visual information.

However, they also appear to have lost some of the problem solving skills we developed as youngsters. They have computers to solve problems for them. I think this is a bad thing but maybe the progress in other areas makes this irrelevant.

Each generation loses something but gains something else.

I think the lack of quiet time, coupled with the lack of widespread reading and digesting of information at a slower pace will eventually be seen as a bad thing. Problem solving skills have to be learned, computers can only approach things logically. Sometimes he creative side of thinking is the only answer; we have that capability.

I'm pleased the kids have more than we had. I just hope they don't all begin to rely on technology and all the flashing lights and bells and whistles it brings with it. A healthy dose of scepticism is good for us all, and when the power goes off for a few hours in a storm we need to know how to cope. We can. Can they?

Anonymous said...

Where would you rather live Marian?

In a paleolithical society where you have to work all day just to survive? In a comunist country, where the state controls your thoughts?

Or in an active thrilling vibrant contemporary metropolis where you have plenty of options for your “free time”? (Think about Paris, London, Barcelona, New York...)

Did you get the point?

Mariana Soffer said...

Rob Bryanton

Rob the thing is that you are a very speciall person, eager to learn, to know all the new things, to understand what is going on in this society, even with the conception of how the universe was form with its structure, and questioning also what and how time is. And it makes me really happy that there are people like this in this world.

Oh yes my age, the problem is that I do not know why I input the wrong numbers in that field, so everybody thought I was much more older than I am now, but It took a while till somebody mentioned it to me, and once they did it took me another while to figure it out where I should change it.

Ja, you are really quick and smart rob, you are completelly right, it will make him look pretty bad then, and I agreee with your opinion about him, his is so close minded as a person can be, therefore he can not deal with new technologies

Be well my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Nick
I can congratulate younger people for their smartness, for what is worth they can stick with it, it is not about iq or whatever you wanna measure to say how quick you think, it is about wisdom the real deal. Besides I do not belive really in the way they measure, they are probably not updating good enough those tests, so people are just the same but came more train due to technology in some skills they may measure.

Interesting what you say about the generation that used the nuclear weapons, very interesting indeed, I did not thought about something like it. Thanks for bringing it here.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jessie Carty
Yes the guy did not seem very smart, I agree with that. When he list their common characteristics you should start listing the one his generation had.

Maybe you should think of being of a certain generation the same way you think about being from one ethnic race or another is, they are different, they have different characteristics and skills, but nothing wrong with anything of it.

Talking aboiut problem with blanket category, sometimes I even have problems with putting things a name, because you are categorizing it by doing that, and maybe things are also not that easy to classify.

You are right, they can not be defined with just a few words, but you know how people is they like to classify things and put them in the box, so they have a rule about how to behave regarding a certain thing, and if rules and classifications are simpler and shorter they are easier to learn and there is less to think off.

Thanks a lot for your interesting comments and take good care of yourself

Mariana Soffer said...

Id it is
You are right about them having an amazing amount of data just one click away, but you have to see what is the real value of that data for them, or how they use it and for what purpose do they want it.

I was thinking that also they might be called dumb due to the face that people have while they stare at a screen, don't you think we all look stupid while doing it?

Since there is no scarcity I guess there is not that much will for information or maybe is due to the dificulty of finding it.

Thanks a lot for commenting, my pleasure reading it!

Mariana Soffer said...

eva
Nice to see you here
I agree that silence can be a problem here,I was thinking it cand be kind of a paradox because nowadays with the tools technology provides us like youtube, blogs and websites, we have more possibilities of reaching lots of people when we speak.

bye bye and take care

Mariana Soffer said...

t
Hi my creative friend, I like what you tell about your life an family, it is nice to hear. I was thinking maybe the older people who name that generation like that were doing it out of envy. or they where just mean.

Thanks for stepping by my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

paulandrewrussel

Very nice to hear your story my friend, I feel a little identified, there where no pc s till I was around 12 years old, I guess, so I learned to think the same way you also did.

I am not sure why you want to learn to solve problems, it depends on which kind of you are talking about, for example it is not usefull anymore to learn multiply large numbers, computers do it for you now, and I do not know if it is good for the brain to have that skill or not.

Very wise words about the lose and gain thing.

You are right we are the only ones capable of creativity, therefore be happy we can dedicate almost exclusively to it, cause computers will do the tedious repetitive tasks, and we can also dedicate a little to the complex logical thinking because computers need to be guided by a human being to let it know the process steps or the big schema of it.

You are right that is whan of the things I think pretty often, we are each time more dependant on infrastructures, whatever it is, it is imposible for us to function anymore without them, and I think that is kind of a problem because we should also be able to function by ourself. We will see what happens in the future my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Anonymous

I completely understand now! thanks for showinng me and exemplifying your thoughts. By the way I think you should read a book by steven pinker called something about the violence, that talks about how humanity evolves in time.

Take care

ines.gato22@hotmail.com said...

What makes a generation? and is there a generation gap indeed?

those questions are always wondering my brain, and I do not know what to think about it

Raul said...

I was wondering if there are exclusive or particular characteristics each generation was defined by, and if they where which one where they, I was thinking more in how they are considered in academic researchs.

Thanks for the info about it

Mariana Soffer said...

ines

A generation is based on the range of birth years of a group of people. Generations can span many years; since people are individuals, not all members of a generation exhibit the same traits. Generational traits develop during the formative growth years of that generation. Someone born in 1954 would be influenced by an early-1960s childhood and a 1970s young adulthood. These influences affect people’s values and attitudes throughout their lives. Largely, a generation is formed by the environment experienced in the early to middle years of its members.

Generational differences are becoming easier to identify. The “generation” a person belongs to can greatly affect many aspects of his or her life. The term “generation gap.”
was coined to mean the empty space in which people born of different times do not understand each other because of their differing attitudes, values, communication, and interests. But the “generation gap” term is no longer a true reflection of the attitudes among generations. With people living longer and communication increasing, we are developing relationships with all generations. We spend much of our time personally
and professionally dealing with people of many generations

But there is much more to it than that, there are many ways to think about it for me.

Bye

Mariana Soffer said...

raul
I found this definition or description of the 3 generations before this, I found it pretty interesting how they classify them, there is a more extensive study that explain a little better the motives of this clasification in it.

The Silent or Traditional Generation (born 1922-1945)
This group values privacy and sharing inner thoughts may be challenging. Members believe in hard work and “paying their dues” before their achievement is recognized. Their word is their bond and they value honesty. Communication, propriety, and procedure are formal. This generation was raised in an orderly society having clearly defined roles and functions. Because they survived the Great Depression and World War II, this group is not wasteful and values saving and making do. They are hard-working, economically aware, and generally trustful of the government. They are optimistic and willing to sacrifice. Patience is a virtue.
The Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
This group grew up in a time of economic prosperity against a background of rebellion. They value peer competition and strive for challenge and change. Boomers, like Traditionalists, value hard work because they view it as necessary for moving to the next level. Traditionalists value it because it is the right thing to do. Boomers enjoy climbing the ladder of success. This is a show-me generation, and body language is important. Boomers work well in teams and do not like having rules for the sake of rules. This group will fight for a cause they believe in. Health and personal growth are important. Boomers thought their parents’ world needed an overhaul so they saw their role as one of questioning, justifying, and creating change. The workplace will be dominated by this generation until 2015.
Generation X (born 1965-1980)
This is the first of the “tech” generations. This group may be economically aware because members grew up with double-digit inflation and unemployment stress. Unlike their predecessors, they do not trust institutions for long-term security. This group can be discouraged about society, but they are adept, clever, and resourceful. They are comfortable with change and clear about the meaning of balance in their lives. They work to live, not live to work. They introduced diversity, thinking globally, and “fun” into the workplace. They work hard and, like Boomers, want to rise on the ladder of success,
but they do it mostly to be in control of balancing their lives. This group wants plenty of information. They value loyalty in the workplace, but loyalty can also mean giving “two weeks notice.” They like to manage their own time and solve their own problems.
bye

Uncle Tree said...

Good morning, Mariana!

In America, this has been the age of "no child left behind" in education. Test scores are on the rise, because teaching the 'dumbest of the dumb' became a priority. Or so they say. Poverty will always keep some children on the bottom end of the scale. Those kids will always despise the more intelligent (better testers), and some of them will use that anger as an impetus to prove themselves worthy, while others will not. Nothing at all new about that.

Immigration poses another problem. English is being taught, and then corrupted by the new 'texting' abbreviations. Thank goodness they have spell-check, but it is quickly becoming out-dated. Why do they need to know proper English? Even the President has a speech writer.

What should these kids care about, and why? The service industry still needs a lot of helping hands, and you don't need to know English in order to be a good nurse. Rest/retirement homes will soon be on every block, and guess who our babysitters will be?

My daughter was born in 1994, and she encounters all the same teenage difficulties we did as teens. Peer pressure, making friends, being popular, looking good, and staying out of jail, still remain the main things that concern this age group. I can't blame them for staying out of politics. Who has time for that?

benjibopper said...

Very interesting post.

Could be termed Generation Cynical. I think it is cynicism that makes those books unattractive, uninteresting.

But, the internet is loaded with information, and misinformation, so its not like this generation isn't learning. Perhaps the tools of learning have simply changed.

Maybe should be called Generation ADHD - so much information is available in so many forms that it seems to be a generation that can't concentrate on any one thing for very long, so it moves from medium to medium, subject to subject, perspective to perspective, and trusts nothing and no one.

You make a good point that this sadly results in not knowing where it is anyone in this generation stands.

Rayuela said...

Muy interesante tu nota al respecto de la Gen Y. Soy profesora de jóvenes de entre 20 y 25 años, y, afortunadamente, muchos de ellos salieron (o nunca estuvieron) en la burbuja. Serán la excepción que confirma la regla?

Un beso,Mariana!

Citizen of Earth said...

I myself address this issue every day
And I address gen dumb the same as I address everyone else
I simply try to make sense

To break down the complex
Into terms people can understand...

I am a man of science
Sometimes even scholarly people who are well educated
Have trouble understanding me
If I am left to speak in my own scientific terms

Yes
You cannot describe things as well
When you use simple terms
But if you reach no one
What is the purpose of describing anything at all?

I am no longer singing to the choir

I reach out to the masses
And speak from my heart
And even some gen dumb children of today
Get the message

Some people call what I do writing poetry
And perhaps rightfully so
For the universe
Is very poetic

I am simply trying to make sense

Look not overly much at the tide
The ebb and flow of the mass thinkers
From generation to generation
They will wash the sands of time with great predictability

Remember that any generation, anytime
Is capable of producing the next Keppler
The next Newton
Galileo, Einstein
Carl Sagen
Hawking...

Perhaps it takes the stoic, static, status quo
Of the mundane minded
To cause the bubbles of the truly gifted to burst

Mariana Soffer said...

uncle tree

Good morning dear uncle.

It is very interesting what you say about an increase in education that is going on, I was wondering if educating people has not been increasing steadily for many generations? It could be de case, we will have to do some research about it. But that fact is good indeed because I consider educating people an important thing, so in that area, if it is real the facts that people are getting more educated society is getting better.

About the spell-check, I agree with you I also think that we do not need to know how to multiply large number either, no use.

It is also a fact that the average population age and life span is much higher than before, which produces an increased need for taking care of the elderly. So I infer that you are telling that third world country people will be the ones that will take care of first word's citizens in their old age, that is an interesting posibility, haven t thought about it. I thought that maybe they will develop more technological an automatic systems to help perform that tasks and therefore less people will be needed for it.
I guess all teenagers go trough the same insecurities, issues, and searchs no matter what generation they belong to, but those things you mention might vary in form (like now they want to be popular in facebook and do not care much about phisical friends, it is slightly ridiculous the example but it was just for you to understand what I meant), but in escence they are the same.
I think politics had been going down on popularity for a long time now, bodillard talks about that a little in his explanation of posmodernity (which has many years now).

Big hugh my friend

Rick said...

Hello, Mariana!

Having been around a few years, I can tell you conclusively that there is no difference between any of these generations as human beings. It's just that each has been exposed to different stimuli and historical/cultural context.

The unfortunate misunderstanding that Bauerlein is laboring under is his mistaking the issue as one of generations, not of stimulus interaction as the case really is. I think we have to try harder to see the commonality between all of these generations.

May I also share with you that all of these generations under discussion have suffered and struggled with the same issues of egotism and societal separation. It is only nostalgic and manipulative historians who present different generations differently than they were. We'll all grow a lot if we look harder for the similarities than the differences.

In other words, the separtation is engendered by those doing the looking, not the generations themselves.

As usual, you have presented well an intriguing and relevant topic. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Mariana Soffer said...

benjibopper
Thank you benji!

Definition of cynisim:a skeptical, scornful or pessimistic attitude; an emotion of jaded negativity, or a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of other people

Probably people just do not belive in things like they did before, they do not trust anything like they used to any more, for example there are no more strong political idealists like communist or democratic ones in older times.

Agee about internet content, I do not think that we are more informed now than we were before.

Well the no trusting I think is true, and it is not a nice characteristic for me, but I think maybe at least there is more trust now in science than it was before.

I also think you might be right about people having a much shorter span of atention than before, much more problems with focusing are being experienced now, but as a counterpart they have now the advantage of being more able to do several things at the time, they are multi-tasking enabled, they can perform 20 different tasks at the same time, which is something that we can not do. Therefore I think there are pros and cons if you try to widen your view of the different generations and their characteristics.

Yes I agree with the assertion you make at the end, obviously cause I made it, but on the other side maybe older generations thought they where standing in one place and indeed they where completely mistaken, who knows?

I guess I am trying to be slightly more optimistic today, trying to open my angle of view on see other things, but this are just new ideas, I might be perfectly wrong with what I mentioned here.

Thanks a lot for making me think so much and inspiring me to explore my neurons a little further.

Mariana Soffer said...

Rayuela
She says the following:
Very intersting your text about gen Y. I am a teacher of youg people between 20 and 25 years, and luckly many of them got out (or never where in) the buble. Will that be the exception that confirms the rule?
By the bubble she refers to the narcisitic one people sometimes live in.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ruela
Very intersting, so you are a teacher indeed? I am going to write you an email or visit your blog probably, I am curious about it.

I agree with you that most people where never in the narsicistic bubble, I think we should also acknowledge that the culture from argentina is pretty different from the one in the states, due to economic and social differences mainly.

Lets hope we get out of the bubble and never get back, as generations keep comming on time, maybe it is not the exception of the rule, if you are optimistic you can watch it as an evolution of society, which is realizing that we need colaboration and helping each other to improve.

Big kiss

Mariana Soffer said...

Citizen of Earth
I was thinking that making sense of humanity must be one of the most complicating things that exists.


I liked a lot what you say, that some people call it writing poetry but you are just trying to make sense, that is excelent. I think that are words from a real artists. There is a sentence I heard today from a neuroscientist:"So in a sense the brain is questing for knowledge, the artist is also constantly questing for interpretation and knowledge", I think you might like it.

You are right we never know when or what will cause the gifted to
produce and show their magic to this word.

Thanks for your beautifull poetry and amazing thoughts you left on my blog.

Mariana Soffer said...

Exactely, we are the same, check what I said in a comment that is upper from here:
I also think you might be right about people having a much shorter span of atention than before, much more problems with focusing are being experienced now, but as a counterpart they have now the advantage of being more able to do several things at the time, they are multi-tasking enabled, they can perform 20 different tasks at the same time, which is something that we can not do. Therefore I think there are pros and cons if you try to widen your view of the different generations and their characteristics.

We should try to see the commonalities, of course, but also the differences, but not like mr Bauerlein does, in a less discriminative and judgamental kind of way, less biased towards what one is comfortable with and can understand.

It is true that in a way all the generations are the same, I said to uncle tree the following:I guess all teenagers go trough the same insecurities, issues, and searchs no matter what generation they belong to, but those things you mention might vary in form (like now they want to be popular in facebook and do not care much about phisical friends, it is slightly ridiculous the example but it was just for you to understand what I meant), but in escence they are the same.

I guess we really are on the same page

Excelelent words to put the problem in, I loved how you concluded, with a perfect and beaiutifull resume of what endangers things.

Thanks to you a lot rick for stepping by
M

peter said...

Hi, I was wondering given that I belong to this new generation of peoples if you can give me some informtion respecting how things are different now from the employment perspective, than with our parents, because I guess it can be very usefull for us to know

Thanks

Mariana Soffer said...

I found and article, that I think it is pretty accurate about it, science I am able to compare the difference cause I lived trough both ages myself. Here are the changes I think are more notables:
Generation Y employees have a very different mind-set about work than previous generations. Personal fulfillment, whether it's working in a job they deem meaningful or having a work-life balance that provides great flexibility, is of primary importance to this generation. Personal satisfaction with their work is an expectation, not a side benefit. If their jobs or careers are not fulfilling, they are much more likely to change positions or careers than their predecessors. As a group, Generation Y has a higher volunteer rate than other groups, and they are very adept at juggling e-mails on their PDAs while surfing the 'Net and talking on their cell phones. Companies today should keep Generation Y's needs in mind and adapt their hiring and retention practices accordingly in order to keep these employees motivated.

jinjir minjir said...

Theories, theories, theories. Theories that always serve a purpose, and always come from somewhere and by someone... Always looking at others instead of ourselves to understand a fraction of the world that keeps on changing. And by the time we understand it, we've already moved three stages/levels ahead.

Excuse the pessimism. But 99% of what I hear (including my brain's voice) is a whole load of BS.

Which again can be said to be a theoretical something that seems to serve no-one and coming from nowhere and no-one, but which is only a disguise.

Mariana Soffer said...

jinjir minjir
I loved your comment, it make me think and laugh at the same time.

Norice my friend that you yourself are also explaining your theory regarding how theoriges and things change, and the utility of them, therefore you are included in your own framework, implying that what you say might also so be BS. I know you realized this already, you are pretty smart any way, I know dyou do not want to, but you can not help to be it.
Thanks for your creative thinking, and your interesting way of expresing how your felling today about the damn explanations people try to make about everything that there is and even that could be.

Take care

Lydia said...

The quiet generation. This phrase is deep and is a thought to meditate on. I will do that.

Rayuela said...

Thanks,Mariana, a big kiss for you!

~otto~ said...

Great post, great questions.

(1971)

Mariana Soffer said...

Lydia
There is an article that has been very famous a couple of years ago that refers to it as generation q, and it says:

It’s for all these reasons that I’ve been calling them “Generation Q” — the Quiet Americans, in the best sense of that term, quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad.

But Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good. When I think of the huge budget deficit, Social Security deficit and ecological deficit that our generation is leaving this generation, if they are not spitting mad, well, then they’re just not paying attention. And we’ll just keep piling it on them.

There is a good chance that members of Generation Q will spend their entire adult lives digging out from the deficits that we — the “Greediest Generation,” epitomized by George W. Bush — are leaving them.


here is the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/opinion/10friedman.html

I think you might be intersted since you where curious about that, hope you enjoy that read.

Take care lydia

Mariana Soffer said...

Rayuela
Thanks to you very much

Otto
I feel my ego is going to burst!

Take care you both

Mariana Soffer said...

Nick
I check the IQ issue, I do not know if you read the flinn effect, but it says the following regarding it:

The cognitive psychology of a succeeding generation has a lot of stimulation for the abstract mind, and hence a better interpretative ability to assimilate these ideas. This demands a lot of thinking and reasoning from an average human brain. A simple example can be the scientific advancement which has undergone a sea of change. A person now in his 40s had limited access to technological inventions, the web, or mobile communication in his childhood. In stark contrast to this, consider his son born in the 1990s, who is quite adept and comfortable using these advancements. Even though he is using these technologies unknowingly, (his brain comprehends more facts than what his father's did, at his age) the average effort put in by his brain to understand a particular system is higher than his father's brain. This can be due to variety of reasons like better nutrition, large scale exposure to many concepts at a relatively tender age, interactive media and so on.

Here is the rest:
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/what-is-the-flynn-effect.html

Stu said...

I was born in 1977. What a relief! ;)

Mariana Soffer said...

Stu
My friend, I think it does not make a different, we will be unhappy and searching for what is our mission in life non stop without making the slightless difference in whatever generation we where born

Love

Simon Edhouse said...

Interesting observations, but I think its almost a truism that older generations tend not to really understand newer ones. The 1978 + generation is as it is, unto itself... I know that is easy to say, and probably comes across as trite. But, these people grew up in a different context. The Beatles for them is like Mario Lanza for us. The importance of witnessing man landing on the moon when I was 12 left an indelible impression, as did the overwhelming wash of the 1960's/70s long-hair Woodstock ethos... But to this so called "dumb" generation, these poignant cultural memes, are as remote as World War 2 was to me... Epochs come and go, and divide our ability to understand new contexts. I think social and cultural evolution dictates that new times call for new mind-sets, and who are we to judge?

Mariana Soffer said...

Simon Edhouse
Welcome to this blog! Great comment you made ,thanks.

It is true what you say about generation understanding each other, I think that older people probably underestimate young ones due to the fact that they do not understand the usefulness of their habilities, cause they do not have them. we all should learn to be more accepting of our differences, because even it does not look like, we are really discriminative.
there are not big differences between any of these generations human beings. It's just that each has been exposed to different stimuli, environment and historical/cultural context.
I agree that new eras require new skills and mind-sets, but I do belive that no matter how much older are you, and how different where you raise, you can learn and understand this new culture perfectly well.

Take care of yourself

geek said...

Again, I am late in this thread. Just escaped non-virtual business, and I noticed that I have so much to catch on here in the virtual space.

I read (more like just scanned) through an article in my college's publication, which is interesting and relevant to the Gen Dumb that you are presenting here. Well, I can be said to be a part of Gen Dumb because of the year that I was born in. Anyway, the article says that our generation is living in a time of boredom. That we have been washed by apathy, and there's no war or revolution to be passionate about (this is I think contestable).

Also, there are also different opinions on this tech-savvy generation. Is it harmful or not?

I don't have data to support or debunk on the loss of context and history among our generation. But I guess, it depends on how this new wave of technology is used and the context in which it is used. It does not only breed apathetic and narcissistic kids. It also gives chance to breed kids who want to participate connect, and sympathize with each other across the world, and open spaces for interaction and new forms of learning and understanding.

Nice being back here, Mariana.

Mariana Soffer said...

geek
I think that when a generation is currently being experience it is impossible to get data to evaluate it, but I am going to copy some of the things I agree with, which where part of the comments here
Exactely, we are the same, check what I said in a comment that is upper from here:
I also think you might be right about people having a much shorter span of atention than before, much more problems with focusing are being experienced now, but as a counterpart they have now the advantage of being more able to do several things at the time, they are multi-tasking enabled, they can perform 20 different tasks at the same time, which is something that we can not do. Therefore I think there are pros and cons if you try to widen your view of the different generations and their characteristics.

We should try to see the commonalities, of course, but also the differences, but not like mr Bauerlein does, in a less discriminative and judgamental kind of way, less biased towards what one is comfortable with and can understand.

It is true that in a way all the generations are the same, I said to uncle tree the following:I guess all teenagers go trough the same insecurities, issues, and searchs no matter what generation they belong to, but those things you mention might vary in form (like now they want to be popular in facebook and do not care much about phisical friends, it is slightly ridiculous the example but it was just for you to understand what I meant), but in escence they are the same.

geek said...

Aah.. I see the point. I, myself, found the web more enjoying than the physical world. I could better interact and talk to people in the virtual space. Probably because I am very shy in real life.

I am just wondering if this Gen Dumb is cross-cultural. Like, is it present in all societies?

Mariana Soffer said...

Geek
That is one thing that can be the problem, that people prefer to relate in the virtual world, and that if they have some difficult in the real word they do not tend to develop that habibility as they where force to do before because they have anothe way to do it, so they are more limited in that respect.

I guess it is pretty much cross cultural, given that the world is become more globalized all phenomenoms of society tend to happen in many places at the same time

geek said...

"I guess it is pretty much cross cultural"

I would argue against that, though. I think it might be the case in the industrialized countries and some elite and middle class from the developing countries. But I don't think it's necessarily evident everywhere. For example, the peasants (in Sociological and Anthropological usage) have no access whatsoever in many of our "luxurious" technologies(in their perspective, anyway). A professor from North America, who's teaching Anthropology, also said that only few have access to PCs and internet in Africa.

"people prefer to relate in the virtual world, and that if they have some difficult in the real word they do not tend to develop that habibility as they where force to do before because they have anothe way to do it" -- I don't know. Sometimes, real world can be more alienating, in a sense. There were some scientists that claimed that depression decreased for some people who engage in online communities.

Mariana Soffer said...

geek
What you are telling me reminds me of the digital divide, have you heard about it? the idea is that now the world would be devided in two different parts the ones that have and know how to handle computers and the ones who do not, and are not able to do it. But they say that the gap between those two kinds is getting smaller, and the world is getting more uniform regarding that, haven t you heard about the proyect from negroponte of a 1oo dls laptops so there would be one per child in undeveloped countries?

Did people really got depressed after that. Interesting fact I could never imagine it, nevertheless I guess there are all kind of people in this world.

Thanks for you interesting comment my friend if you know anything else about the people who get more depressed in the real world or if you know the paper title please let me know, I would like to see it.

geek said...

I couldn't find you articles saying that people get more depressed in the real world. I could, however, give you some articles saying that internet use doesn't make people lonely, and sometimes can help them feel less lonely.

* http://www.badscience.net/2009/02/the-evidence-aric-sigman-ignored/

* http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2009/02/facebook_causes_marb.html

http://neuroanthropology.net/2009/03/02/is-facebook-rotting-our-childrens-brains/

This guys have a list on their blogs, in which he is also giving counter-arguments on Dr. Sigman, who claimed that there are bad effects of social networking.

I haven't heard of the Negroponte project. I don't think there is such a movement in my country (which is an underdeveloped country).

Mariana Soffer said...

Geek
Thanks a lot for sending me those articles, the last one I have alredy read it in the past. Do not worry about not finding exactely the one you wanted, maybe is a paper and you have to pay for seing it. I found very interesting from the first one the asociation of SN with cancer, I never heard something like that, neither did it occur to me.
And the one from mind hack is very funny, cause of the marble things, I like that creativity. And I also got to learn about the internet paradox which I did not heard also.
Anway I am really confused mentally, I am not sure about what to think of SN, if these people are being just sensacionalistics, of they have some truth in it, the first article seems to fall in the first category I think.
Anyway as I told you it is very difficult to evaluate the social and cultural things while they are happening. Today I do not have a clear opinion, I am towards the idea that they are just tools and depending how people use it they will do good or bad for society.

I think the guy is called nigroponte is in the ted.com website

Thanks a lot once again and send you a big hugh my friend.