Spencer Richard

What The Internet Has Done To My Generation


I’m just going to go ahead and let this out of the box. For those of you who didn’t already know or couldn’t tell from my dangerously egotistical about me page, I am a twenty-something. Are you feeling sorry for me yet? If you aren’t, no worries—us twenty-somethings feel sorry enough for ourselves as it is.

There’s lots out there on this topic. “Poor Generation Y”, says the internetApparently we’ve every reason to be overwhelmed, not to mention the zombie apocalypse we might have to deal with. Woe is us! How will we survive another day? Et cetera, ad nauseam. Let me tell what’s really  wrong with this generation. Imagine a place where…

The Internet is Everybody’s Mentor.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Google. It’s because of Google that I even had the resources to design and create my own website. Without Ixquick, I would have never learned how to tell when the chicken legs are fully cooked (short answer: white is right, pink you’ll puke). Without Bing, I never would’ve learned how to tie the coolest looking tie in the world. Clearly my life would be miserable without the internet.

Except that it won’t.

You see, my generation lives in an I-want-I-have sort of society. People like me have spent their maturing adolescence gaining the impression that no matter what sort of unfettered curiosity arises in their caffeine/marijuana/alcohol-induced-brain, there is an answer for it. No matter what the desire, somebody out there has written a how-to on it. Even things that are as simple as how to tie your own shoes, and you know what’s scary about that? The video I just linked to over six-hundred-thousand views. Basically what I’m trying to say is that my generation has a funny relationship with the internet. You might call it an abusive one.

Generation Y? Using this Teddy Bear, please point to where the internet abused you.

Generation Y: Using this Teddy Bear, please point to where the internet abused you.

Yes, somewhat distasteful jokes aside, the internet has taken advantage of us. The psychology of the modern mind no longer seeks the counsel of  elders or the advice of those who simply know better—No, instead we use our iPhone’s to bounce around from tweet to post, status update to webpage, stopping only to click a single ” like” button to show we were there.

For the young, when it came to learning a new task, or a necessary truth of life, not so long ago they would have to learn by actually having to ask somebody. This may seem like a small thing, but having to approach another human being, let alone say words to them, is an important skill too many Generation Y’ers don’t have. It also requires, by necessity, an attitude of humility. If little Joey wants to learn how to ski, asking his older brother how means that Joey has recognized the fact that he himself does not know everything. He is not the source of knowledge and understanding in the universe. Additionally, he’s recognized that his brother knows more than him in a certain area. Both of these indicators of humility must occur for any lasting lesson to take place.

For example: just yesterday I was getting ready to leave cardio-kickboxing when I noticed a young woman hanging behind to keep on working out. She was hitting the bags with the precision of a professional—clearly she’d been doing this for a while. Since I’d been struggling with my uppercuts, I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn how to do them better. When I asked her if she wouldn’t mind helping me, she was courteous and put me on the right track. Her advice was incredibly useful to me, and she gave it happily. After I thanked her she said something to the effect of, “You know, it’s a rare quality in a person to ask for help. It’s really refreshing to see.” She’s happy, I’m happy, and my uppercut is all the better for it.

The imparting of knowledge given face to face tends to be more meaningful and longer lasting than a Youtube video because of the immediate time and effort of the teacher, as well as the humility of the pupil required to facilitate the learning. Google has robbed us of this natural human mentorship and has instead given us the impression that we are both teacher and student. For instance, I guarantee you don’t know the name of the guy in that video who showed you how to re-string a guitar, and what’ s more, I know for a fact you went and told all your friends you were self-taught.

Because the internet has become the mentor of my generation and I have decided to wrap myself in its chains, I can only hope that in doing this I will not strangle myself in the process. Here I write a blog where people can hopefully get a few chuckles and learn some things, read a story and potentially be moved, or at least be reminded of some things they’ve forgotten about.

To off set this idea of impersonality, I want it to be clear whom you are listening to, and I want you to be able to engage with me in conversation. There’s a reason the domain name is spencerrichard.com and the sidebar has my contact email. This is my way of extending a friendly hand and saying, “Yes, I know it’s the internet and all, but as long as you’re at this website, I will be your host.”

And if there’s nothing here for you to learn from, I’m hoping I can at least learn from you.

Continued in Part 2

About the Author View all posts Author website

Spencer Richard

was once a small town columnist for THE HINTON PARKLANDER (2008-2009). Before then he performed to an unsuspecting audience of over 8,000 people during the ALBERTA WINTER GAMES in 2006. Later he had one of his own songs, ON THE WAY, produced by Black Road Records (2013) and showcased it in with an original music video. He is currently working on a couple of novels and a rap album. During the day he manages a book store in Edmonton, Alberta.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I sooo agree with what you said Spencer!!!! The internet..TV///Games,,,,, Are taking over…and we ask ourselves why these news generations have (Almost) no feelings!!! DUH!!!

    • Well, to be fair, I don’t think I find myself asking whether or not my generation has feelings or not, I’m fairly confident we do. I appreciate the comment very much, Marianne, I really do– I notice you’ve commented on all of my posts so far (which is nice), but I’m not totally sure what the second half of this particular comment has to do with the article, I guess. Maybe you could explain it to me better?

  • “I have decided to wrap myself in its chains” – or stated differently, first the man takes the bottle, and then before long, the bottle takes the man. Check out Chief Seattle’s famous speech given around 1855, after whom the city Seattle is named. Much controversy is out there about this speech, but, what is evident is this. Before the internet, long before, we were part of something profound. Life was not easy among the elements for sure but, it was a life fully alive. Today many go through the motions of life, more survival then anything else. The internet doesn’t necessarily show how far we have advanced but, how far we have fallen.

  • “Both teacher and student” I thought this was a really interesting observation. A lot of the things you pointed out I hadn’t really thought of before, like that part humility plays in learning a lesson. I think there is a lot to be said for that too. And it’s funny too how you mentioned that we consider ourselves “self-taught” when we watch a YouTube video or something to learn how to do it. However, what if a guy was to pick up an instructional piano manual and “teach himself” to play piano. Does he not also owe credit to the author of the book? Is it different or is it the same? I don’t really know, but it’s a good question. Also it just goes to show that we learn even LESS humility when we “learn a lesson” because we start giving ourselves credit for “teaching ourselves” rather than paying credit to the teacher (in a YouTube video or article or whatever that might be). I agree with you Spencer, how important humility is. Or how destructive the ego is.

    Anyway, I really liked the article. I have a lot of… mixed thoughts about how the internet has impacted people too. Though I am certainly guilty of taking advantage of it, like anybody else… I mean, I love the internet. It has allowed me to do so many things that I otherwise couldn’t have, sort of like what you mentioned in the beginning of your article, learning how to build a website and cook chicken and such, really technical things and really basic things. But I’ve also got some concerns, like you, about how the deeper we sink into the realm of the internet the further we separate ourselves from real, genuine human interaction. And that part really worries me. Anyway, I really liked the article, largely because I appreciate the topic so much.

  • Valid observation. There is no doubt this is a social schism that we face now. however, I will also argue that some violence has been avoided because of the internet. When I was growing up and at a party, a fight would ensue (physical or verbal) that would start on a simple detail as to who scored more goals in one season….the disagreement would heat up to a point of pride washing over reason and feelings/body parts getting hurt. Now, it’s settled. Go to your smartphone, do the search and the answer is known….when one door opens, another behind you may close….

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