I sort of updated my pubski post to include part of this but I would like to hear what others have to say and I feel like I should make a post.

I think in previous generations when young people weren't given proper guidance from their parents they had a few options 1-remain lost and uncertain 2- find somebody else to help guide them through life 3- try really really hard to get this guidance from their parent even with all the letdowns.

My generations has a totally different option and that's good young Papa Internet. We didn't have to plead or fight for the guidance. We didn't have to turn to people and be vulnerable in hopes somebody would be there. If our parents weren't interested in guiding us, teaching us new things, helping us work out our problems or connecting with us we could just google everything. As great as that may sound at first it means we lack the emotional connection that should have been made. We also lack the desire for the emotional connection. Papa Internet may have never made us feel like a burden or got impatient but there was also no love, no real connection.

Take every opportunity you have to ask your child about their day, help them work through their problems, teach them new things while never losing your patience with them, let them know that you'll be there whenever they need to talk because they won't fight for it anymore. If it's not there they have options and that option isn't nearly as good as what you can provide.

ANYWHO, I'm sure some people have thoughts on this, I would love to hear them.


Sherry Turkle has written no less than four books about this over the course of the past 40 years. I've read three.

The Second Self dates to 1984 and discusses how children and adults interact with technology - how it is an "other" that is not quite alive and not quite unliving, a mysterious and unexplored gray area that provides opportunities to grow our physical and mental selves through the explorations of terra incognita.

Life on the Screen, which I have not read, is a 1994 study on identity performance and self-image as it relates to our ability to project our identities beyond our physical surroundings and beyond truth. It examines the changes we must make psychologically when we go from being a person to being an avatar and what it takes to successfully bridge the gap.

Alone Together is a 2004 examination of the alienating effects of technology on our lives and what our ready access to technology and alternate spheres of influence has done to us psychologically. It is not a happy book, illustrating that over the past 30 years the alienation of technological devices has left us bereft of many of the experiences that have been formative for every generation of the past several thousand years. One of the most damning observations she makes is that humans don't expect a lot from "the other" in our interactions; we're more than willing to fill in the gaps with our own expectations such that everyone you think you know on the Internet is actually just an augmented image of you.

2015's Reclaiming Conversation, unlike the other three books, actually contains actionable information and data but it really comes down to "put down the phone, get off the Internet, there's nothing there that will give you the basic psychological needs of community and empathy with even a tiny fraction of the utility that simply talking to a fellow human being in person will accomplish."

I'm also a parent.

Unless your parents are awful (and they may well be), they aren't withholding guidance. They just suck at it. My own parents, for example, limited their advice to "don't get married", "don't have kids" and "stay out of my way or I'll fucking kill you" although I occasionally got a "I sure didn't want you but you turned out pretty neat" or "we'll make a welder out of you yet" from time to time. That said, at least their advice has context. At least it has weight. At least it's tailored. The world wasn't telling me not to get married, my drunk, bitter father was telling me not to get married which allowed me to take it under advisement.

That's lacking on the internet.

I fully recognize the irony of advising someone via the internet not to take advice from the internet but there it is - you only know of me what I tell you. The context I present you is statistical and sparse. You know I'm male, you know I'm older than you, you know dozens of irrelevant details. I know you're female, you're young, and you work with mushrooms. The connection we form is generalized at best and any notion you may have otherwise - despite the deliberate poignancy of my words - is assembled wholly from your own background and perception. The phantasm behind the words you read has far more of you in it than me.

I've heard your argument before - "we lack the desire for an emotional connection." The data (four books of it) do not bear that out. You do not lack the desire, you lack the ability. You were never given a chance. A child that eats dinner while her parents stare at their phones is a child that learns that meals are a time for introversion. A child that communicates with her friends via Snapchat is a child that struggles to read body language, that struggles to hear tone, that struggles to understand subtext.

I'll say this: it's a muscle like any other. It grows stronger through exercise. Empathy, humanity, whatever you wish to call it, it can be developed. My parents were horrific. They failed miserably. I've scanned my early slides, from birth through age six. I've watched my own innocence disappear.

But my daughter smiles all the time. She laughs infectiously. She is keenly human, eager to engage and deeply interested in the emotional life of everyone around her.

If an emotionally-retarded psychopath like me can raise a smile like that, than anyone can learn to connect emotionally with anyone.

posted by oyster: 623 days ago