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Digital natives talking about community

There are all kinds of reasons for having kids, but one great thing is that they watch and read stuff that you miss, and if you’re lucky, as I am, they send links like this, “7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable” by David Wong, from a “light humor” website called The subject is social capital, community, and technology. A great piece. (The language is a little raw, by the way, like most of the places my son sends me to, and not bleeped like Jon Stewart.) This is, frankly, sharper and more to the point than most of the discussion at NESTA in London the other evening. Do read the article, but here’s a little bit:

Yet, on the whole, people back then were apparently happier in their jobs and more satisfied with their lives. And get this: They had more friends.

That’s right. Even though they had almost no ability to filter their peers according to common interests (hell, often you were just friends with the guy who happened to live next door), they still came up with more close friends than we have now—people they could trust.

It turns out, apparently, that after you get over that first irritation, after you shed your shell of “they listen to different music because they wouldn’t understand mine” superiority, there’s a sort of comfort in needing other people and being needed on a level beyond common interests. It turns out humans are social animals after all. And that ability to suffer fools, to tolerate annoyance, that’s literally the one single thing that allows you to function in a world populated by other people who aren’t you. Otherwise, you turn emo. Science has proven it.

And on the subject of kids, and echoing a recent post about how wonderful British newspapers are, here’s an extract from a “dad” column, Tom Leonard writing in the Daily Telegraph, that I happened to read at the airport today:

It’s not just that I hate the word “toddler’; it’s that this whole developmental stage smacks of amateurism. Toddlers do a lot more than babies, but they’re just so bad at it. There is a purity about being a baby. You know where you are with them and they know where they are with you – which is totally reliant.

That’s nothing to do with community, really, but I found it amusing – and wonderfully unsentimental.

“Digital natives,” by the way, is how some of the speakers in Berlin were referring to the younger cohort, while people like us are “digital immigrants.”

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