Ethics, Life Related, Rants, School Libraries


Did any one else read this column in the NYTimes and get upset?

I’M 24 years old, have a good job, friends. But like many of my generation, I consistently trade actual human contact for the more reliable emotional high of smiles on MySpace, winks on and pokes on Facebook. I live for Friendster views, profile comments and the Dodgeball messages that clog my cellphone every night.


I mentioned this at work yesterday and the response was “well, this is an extreme case”. I don’t think so. I think that this generation is one that is not comfortable with the face-to-face interaction. They don’t want to have “real” friends, they’re much happier logging on and having a huge circle of cyberfriends. That’s troubling.

And then you get Big Thinkers in the library field writing (in the imperative voice)

I know everything is changing. I truly believe we are at a turning point. I know kids are learning differently. I know — both first and secondhand — the power of social networking and Web 2.0 communication tools. (Never Ending Search)


NextGens multitask as a core behavior. The packed screen that looks unfocused to the average Boomer, who probably closes unused open windows, feels natural to NextGens. The ability to integrate seamlessly and navigate multiple applications, simultaneously combining their worlds in a single environment, is a key skill of this generation. This skill is not just about running several IM conversations at the same time. Add in listening to MP3s on a PC as well as surfing the web while adding content to homework projects and assignments. This is not bad. In a noisy world, it’s a great skill to be able to multitask and focus differentially. Indeed, as MS Windows and MS Office add more applications, it will become critical for libraries to access, acquire, and adapt easily information for this next generation’s decision-making and work environments. (Born with the Chip)

More on that later, but for now let me just say, “oh really”? Why the library? Prove to me that this is necessary. Prove to me that there isn’t a need for the “traditional” school library – gaming and SMSing and all that can take place elsewhere. Convince me that all this so-called social networking (which, because it takes place on the computer and not in real life, seems more like anti-social networking, designed by nerds and geeks who got beaten up in the playground at lunch) is really a good thing.

Thank god for Harper Lee:

“Now,” she writes, “75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cellphones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.”

And, I’ll bet, some real friends to share them with.

4 thoughts on “Edubiblioblogorant”

  1. I can certainly not begin to hope to get you off of this tirade, but just thought I’d share that our very digitally minded, multi-tasking, multi-windows-open-at-all-times and usually with both computer and TV/music blaring teenaged child has fabulous real life friendships, converses overly-confidently with adults and takes genuine pleasure in meeting and chatting up new people. In my opinion, to cling to the old ways is futile. The secret is that the new ways do not excuse us from PARENTING, that nasty word that so many grown-ups seem to have completely forgotten in the wave of digtal crap. Some people act like this is all out of their control and inevitable. If parents would keep an eye on what their kid is doing, make sure to converse with him/her, and do non-digital things with him/her from time to time, perhaps we could create a generation with the best of the past and the future. Just my two cents. I don’t know at all what this means for libraries – that’s why I steer clear of the teenagers outside of my home. : )

  2. Bri, did it ever occur to you that GMB may just be an abberation? He’s got some great parents (and parenting) going on. HOWEVER, how many teens do you know that don’t have that – where the parent has no clue what’s going on, the teen is withdrawn from their lives, etc.? I remember when I was advising at FS and a parent asked me (ME!!!) what they should do when Darling Daughter wanted to go out both Friday and Saturday nights with friends. I suggested an age-old word – NO – and said that it’s ok to use it, and make it stick. The kid was in 7th grade!Anyway, more ranting to come…

  3. Yes, I agree that GMB can be seen as an abberation (thanks : ) ). I’m just suggesting that rather than a problem with technology, we have a problem with parenting. Or maybe it’s a little of both. OR a lot of parenting problems and a small technology problem. I think I vote for that last one.

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