A draft of a paper entitled ” What You Must Know to Help Combat Youth Bullying, Meanness, and Cruelty” came out on February 28th, and I’ve been spending some time cogitating its words of wisdom. We do live in a society that tolerates cruelty and meanness, from politicians slinging mud at each other to celebritites talking trash about each other to sitcoms wringing laughs by characters maligning each other. In this type of environment, it is easy to see how bullying can seem like the norm.
“In order for youth to feel empowered to create a kinder and braver world,” the paper states, “we must begin by making sure that youth are safe.” The culture of meanness and cruelty in which we live, however, promulgates negativity and antagonistic behavior, which prevents youth from feeling safe in their environment.
There is no single answer to problem of bullying, of course, but we as a society owe it to our youth to look to our own behavior and make signficant changes. Children learn what they live, and if we want to address the issue of youth bullying, it needs to start by being role models of decency, compassion, and tolerance. We need to create “a positive youth culture that reinforces kindness and bravery.” It starts with us.
Disraeli said that “to be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge”.
So how do we get stupid people to take that first step?
Yeah, well, so the class in January was full and they haven’t re-offered it yet. Bear with me.
“Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives.” This statement, from a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, indicates that today’s teen and young adult population, connected since childhood to each other and to information, will be affected by that connectivity in ways that remain to be seen. Survey respondents were about evenly split in thinking that this connectivity would have a net positive or negative result by 2020; one thought was that those who count on the Internet as their external brain will be “nimble, quick-acting multi-taskers who will do well in key respects.” Others predicted that the impact of networked living would lead to a desire for instant gratification, quick fixes, and a lack of patience and deep thinking.
What do you think? One respondent wrote, “My sense is that society is becoming conditioned into dependence on technology in ways that, if that technology suddenly disappears or breaks down, will render people functionally useless.” What does that mean for individual and social resiliency? Will this generation use technology or will technology use them, and what are the long-term consequences?