Surprise! Hi-Tech Works

We are a certain age when it’s more natural to belittle popular fads than we were when those fads were our own.

Many of us are exhausted by stories of Twitter, FACEBOOK, Grindr, Linkedin, and four hundred thousand start-ups that seem to be leading directly to each of us becoming our own worlds. Mail service declines because of email. Face-to-face conversations and discussions of anything have just about disappeared. And we complain how little the younger generations understand about what we have always called “real life.” Flash-mobs meet at the drop of 140 words all over the world, in Philadelphia, in Cairo.

In some ways, even worse, we face an educational crisis in this country. Kids drop out, kids quit, kids spend hours doing things adults don’t understand or even begin to estimate as important to them. Young people can neither read nor speak. Their senses of morality have disappeared, if ever they had them. Violence is the simplest way to solve any question. Sometimes there are not even any questions to be answered and still violence erupts. Human life means little or nothing, perhaps because what they see around them – all over the world – demonstrates from minute to minute how insignificant individual efforts and individual men, women and children can be.

This is not germane only to young people.

Adults are learning from their children. A man who pulls out a handgun and shoots a street worker for no reason anyone can find is, in fact, simply mirroring the actions and deeds of his children. If nothing means anything, why not? If mankind is valueless, why try to survive?

This is not simple raspberries. Or an attempt to debase young people because we don’t use their toys. Or because to keep up with the younger generation means, really, going back to school and who has time?

The realization that these toys work, that they keep our children informed and alert, that they actually educate them about the “real world,” is a hard one to unearth.

But that’s exactly what is happening. We may not necessarily like the results, but we can no longer pretend that people fifteen and up, or even younger, don’t understand politics or economics or ambition.

They do. Perhaps not as deeply or in as much detail as any of us would like, bringing changes fore and aft we may not like..

Communication about any world or national or local problem is necessarily unsatisfying. Often it’s simply frustrating. The language of the young – apart from the emojies and misspellings and breakdowns – can be overly direct, not nuanced in any way. The attitudes of the young are direct and often unyielding, regardless of what we might call “common sense.” “Common sense” means very little to our progeny. They are more unyielding than that. They want instant solutions and why should these be unavailable? Among their peers, they are.

140 words is often more than required to inform kids about obstacles in their paths. They understand corruption. They understand nuclear politics and Iran. They understand how American politicians hold their electorate in such disdain. They understand how ineffective a Congress can be and they know why.

Of course they know about music. But also art. They read what their friends read. They eat what their friends eat. They have basic understandings of science and technology. They certainly understand how American courts work. What they don’t seem to understand so well is the result of their own behavior. And their grasp of responsibility – or cause and effect – does often seem flawed.

In matters educational, if we had the guts to do so we would turn over to these kids the common core that has their parents and administrators so tied up. What do they need to learn? What’s the best way to learn it? What does it lead to? Group think can work.

It is the understanding of adults that holds the country back from goals long espoused and cherished.

With the introduction of each hot new gizmo, adults shake their heads. Younger people wait to find out how their lives can be affected by the new technology. They make the decisions. They understand the basic goodness and basic disappointment that ravishes the nation.

There are bad apples, to be certain. Just as there are in older groups. Extremists of all color.

But if we, as grown-ups, could relax a little, and look with interest and support at what these kids are discovering on our behalf, the United States of America could grow, blossom, and flourish as we all want it to.


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