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 internet. Apparently 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.
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