Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Friday, April 23, 2010

those pathetic youngsters

From Yahoo News:

Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.

Susan Moeller, the study's project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.

"I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening," said one student. "Between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin."

Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, e-mail and Facebook.

"Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort," wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. "When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life."

Thank God that I — an educated, thoughtful, mature person — need never worry about such addictions.

But seriously: there is a tradition of human reflection in which being in the midst of busyness is to be "secluded from your life," and to be alone is to find that life. Just in case we've forgotten.

4 comments:

  • There, but for the grace of God, g...oh wait. I'm going to tweet this. Hold on.

  • Sure there is a tradition of human reflection where to be alone is to find your life. But that's an intellectual tradition; most people find meaning in their lives through their friends and families and for better or worse, texting, IMing, emailing and Facebooking is how they communicate with said families and friends. To tell people that there is a tradition of being alone with yourself is to ask them to become an "intellectual", someone, above all, dedicated to the task of reading and writing. Not easy.

  • I don't think the tradition is as intellectual as it is contemplative, a crucial difference.

  • I have directed and will continue to direct a Christian Training School in which the students are asked to give up all media used for entertainment or leisure purposes for twelve weeks. This usually is quite a challenge for the college aged students as they experience the withdrawal described above, but the majority, upon returning to "real life" find it repulsive to return to their former levels of media activity.

    The express reason for this "media fast" is to cultivate contemplative prayer without a multitude of distracting voices (hardly any of these students would consider themselves intellectuals). Instead they have communal prayer every morning, communal worship and teaching every night and individual prayer and study in the afternoons and evenings.

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