Yet again the new cultural practices of kids are getting demonized by left and right. Geeze, adults can be so lame sometimes. One article in particularly really got under my skin, “Mirror, Mirror on the Web” by Lakshmi Chaudhry. She thinks kids are too narcissistic. This is how I responded in my letter to The Nation:
While it’s easy to appreciate the sentiment of Lakshmi Chaudhry’s article, “Mirror, Mirror on the Web”– that the tendencies of our young narcissists are exacerbated by new media– I wonder if this article really serves any purpose other than to gratify a sense of superiority over pop culture that is so common in the Left. No doubt the human tendency to show off is enhanced by the number of outlets available to create opportunities for bloated egos to wend their way to audiences though the Web 2.0, but to paint such a picture only tells one part of the story and unfortunately promotes a subtext that is shocking to see in The Nation: the demonic matrix of youth and media strike once again! These are the same tropes you’ll see cycled repeatedly through the conservative press, and it is one of the many curious commonalities that Left and Right share these days.
As a youth media educator who has worked with thousands of kids across the United States, I have found maybe 5% fitting the description of the raving narcissists described in the story. I found it particularly troubling this notion that feel-good messages from the ’70s are the culprit. Many kids of color I work come from broken homes and could use TLC to build self-esteem. The anger towards this parenting approach is unfathomable to me.
The underlying motive of all children (adults too!) is to connect with others and to be loved. Media education programs help build esteem because they enable kids who normally have few venues for expression to have a voice and learn the tools of a system that is so regularly derided on these pages. This has great benefit to the society. Sure some kids want be famous. Don’t we all? This is America, darn it! (After all why do we write and produce media anyway?)
And I thought their war mongering parents were bad! Anyhow, there is actually a more balanced view over at New York Magazine, a choice observation (below) comes from video game theorist, Clay Shirky:
Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll — New York Magazine:
Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. â€œDo you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.â€
Thatâ€™s a cool metaphor, I respond. â€œI actually donâ€™t think itâ€™s a metaphor,â€ he says. â€œI think there may actually be real neurological changes involved.â€
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