This city’s Emergency Management department has actually issued a warning to young socially-minded gizmo owners: If something happens, put down the Smartphone!
Within minutes of that earthquake a couple of weeks ago, 31,000 Twitter messages had been sent. This tells authorities two things: 1. That social media is a really good way to spread news and 2. young people would rather tweet than take cover!
Having just spent a week with two delightful teenagers, I saw first hand how their noses are buried in their hand-helds. Instead of actually experiencing things, sometimes, they’re ignoring the world around them in favour of finding out what their friends are doing, which is basically the same thing. So when something like a tremor happens the first thing they think of is to tell their social network. Another problem with this is the potential for a lack of critical thinking. The tweet or facebook update is like a news alert; You find out what’s happening and then you should verify it and get more information. But if a teen tells his or her friends to, say, take shelter under a tree during a thunderstorm – the exact wrong thing to do – the other teens are more likely to just do it than to think about it and realize it’s dangerous.
A watershed moment for me was the constant streaming tweets from a younger gal who was commenting on everything she did while out with friends at a club. “Oh, my drink just arrived!” “I’m dancing now! Love this song!” Seriously. I do not need to know that she, or anyone else on the planet, is going to the bathroom, dancing, drinking or any number of things that one normally does on a night out. How can you enjoy the activity if you keep stopping to log it? LIVE it!
Tell a teen that you didn’t have the Internet or social networking or any of that stuff to stay in contact with your friends and they’ll look at you like you’re a fossil. Which, by comparison, I guess you sort of are. We had to use a rotary phone and catch people when they were at home or we were out of luck. When we danced, we danced and didn’t feel the need to tell the world we were dancing. And we all knew that under a tree was the worst place to be during a thunderstorm.