By Graham Sarasy
We are the distracted generation. My generation – from here onwards referred to as The Google Babies – is the first in history to have such unprecedented access to information (and by that I mean mostly garbage) in the form of the Internet. We – specifically those born in the mid 90s – are the pioneers of the age of social media, we were born at the perfect time to be just old enough in 2006 to create our first myspace page, with a plethora of awkward pictures of middle school dances posted for all to see.
As the explorers of this new medium of communication, the “status update,” seem to have lost what many before us relied solely upon, that is, actually making meaningful conversation. It would appear symptomatic of the times, and by default technology that much political discourse has degenerated into a group of extremists dripping hate speech from their snarling, corporate-sponsored lips.
Before the age of the internet, many things had to be done manually, such as socializing, sending letters, or actually thinking. Now all that is required for knowledge is a quick Google or Wikipedia search, rather than observation and problem solving. Is there no relation between the fact that we dedicate so much time to virtual pursuits and that we have not made great strides in knowledge as our predecessors did? Or do we simply focus our attention at other areas?
It is my somewhat tentative diagnosis that we as a generation suffer from a collective case of attention deficit disorder, precipitated by the unending bombardment of information upon our ill equipped minds. The result has created a generation that is never happy and always bored, conditioned to require constant stimulus in order to maintain a coherent thought pattern. Is this why no one seems to like to read anymore? Are books too boring? Not flashy enough, not quick enough for the Google addicts?
As much as I decry the downfall of critical thinking, I concede that the advent of the internet has brought about a multitude of benefits, from near-instantaneous communication, to news immediately as it happens. Regrettably, it seems that the beneficial aspects of the internet age are outweighed by the millions of silly cat pictures that distract from useful and relevant information.
It would appear that the age of the internet has changed the very makeup of our minds, from what used to be a tool for working with one’s hands, to a finely tuned instrument that is exceedingly efficient at navigating 4chan and the tumultuous seas of bit torrent files.
To the previous generation, we are not like you were, we are in all respects, an evolution of the social organism, one that is adept at multitasking and switching tasks quickly, but we are losing the ability to think critically and deeply, as we’d rather leave the thoughts to men on high. But to my generation, to the HTML spawn of this century, do we really want to become such distracted people, because we have some very difficult questions to answer, and Google won’t tell you the answer.