Arguing with Engineers….

24 Mar

I got in an intense conversation with two boys who were of the start-up engineer nature.  I was sharing some of my concerns for the younger generation, or Generation iY (and their children), which are that we’re fostering a culture that does not celebrate humanism; that now our Culture is lowercase; that these children don’t know how to spell and have the attention span of fleas.

Their response was, “why do they need to?  Their brains are completely different than ours and their world is different.”  I agreed, though not entirely.  While I didn’t need to be so cynical, they didn’t need to be so hopeful.  There is a middle ground.

I think a meeting of the two is necessary because a world of constant innovation without a look backward is dangerous.  Our identity is not just who we are but what came before us and the society we live in today – which is also impacted by what is has previously looked like.

I believe our current age, the information age, is beautiful because it took the spark that was ignited in the twentieth century, which was “the way it’s always been done doesn’t seem right.”  Nuclear families weren’t happy, material things didn’t fix anything and meanwhile the nation is at war with another, drafting boys to be killed for what purpose?

Society began to recognize they were being sold a prettily packaged 50s dream, began to see the deep untruths that ran through it, began to see all the varying shades it excluded.

Now, what does this new information age have to do with all this twentieth-century societal upheaval?

I believe it was born from the same impulse – “the way it’s always been done doesn’t seem right”, there can be a better way.

Instead of standing in the streets with flowers in their hair, the young have become entrepreneurs of innovation.  Children as young as ten are starting companies for social good, thinking of services to makes us more communal, and taking long-standing industries such as Publishing and turning them upside down.

The Arab Spring spread through Facebook; no one really gets lost in their cars anymore; small businesses in Africa can be funded through services like Kiva; people like Roger Ebert, who’s a voiceless critic, can still express himself through Twitter.

How can all this be bad?

A secondary world has been created.  It’s a world that exists in a cloud crafted by codes that allows people to have Avatars to live life for them.  It’s a world where you can easily conduct simultaneously relationships through the many existing devices, a place that reduces words to letters; where even laughing can have no sound.

While the academics view humanism as a literary theory, in this context, humanism has the qualities and characteristics of being a human being.  Human beings are complex, physical animals that are born to a physical world.  Humans need real-world relationships, in-person communities; humans need to use their hands beyond the keyboard to get that deep sense of fulfillment.

That’s why it’s important to acknowledge this secondary world dilutes our primary one, and still further, it dilutes and reduces our language; thus limiting our thought, which is shaped by our words.

There is no stopping the age that has been set in motion, and I’m not a pundit on a stand shouting to everyone, warning that our children are doomed.

I’m just a girl, at her computer, acknowledging what has and will be lost if we don’t continue to nourish our primary, physical world; of what will be lost if we lose our rich language of face to face communication; for you can’t see the body that way.

We need to teach our children both worlds.   Tell them that, “the words might never be enough, might never ring exactly true,” but that at the very least we’re going to give them as many as possible; that we will give them all we know – not less.


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