Wired Pursuits

Archive for July 2009

The Internet and the assortment of devices available to connect with it have opened up tons of ways to interact, share, and connect with others. Today’s youth are the first generation to grow up with this new way of sharing and many are not shy about what they share.

Their apparent disregard for the potential risks of all this sharing has created lots of anxiety for parents, teachers, and scholars.  Many are warning kids to be careful what they put online and predicting that what youth share today will become a problem for them in later years.

When I was your age. Not.

But here’s the problem that is unique to this issue – kids today don’t have anyone to learn from. Parents, teachers, and older relatives who would typically mentor or coach youth on the perils of certain activities can’t tell stories about their personal experiences in an effort to warn or teach youth what to watch out for.

Grandma can’t pull Junior aside and tell him how the beer pong photos she posted on Facebook were found by her boss putting her in bad light with him for years to come. Parents can try to reach their kids with “When I was your age…” stories.

I know from experience that the younger generation often don’t think their parents know or understand what their lives are like and this time they’re actually right. We’ve got no lessons learned to pass down and that give us even less credibility in their eyes.

Today’s youth are forging new territory.

Certainly we’ve all heard stories of people getting fired or not hired because of information they’ve posted, however, it’s not all that common. We’re also not likely to personally know someone who’s been negatively affected by sharing too much. This, combined with the common “it won’t happen to me” teenage mantra, means today’s youth are navigating this new territory all on their own.

Questions to ask yourself…

  1. Are today’s youth putting themselves at risk by sharing too much?
  2. If you think they are, what do you feel would be useful in helping them understand the risks?

Just had an experience that, for me, clearly illustrates the differences between the younger and older generation (and yes, I’m putting myself in the latter) when it comes to technology.

I’m sitting on the balcony of an oceanfront condo where my family and I are staying.  A huge storm started building and I looked up to see a tornado (or more correctly a water spout) about 20 yards off the shore over the water.  It snaked way up into the sky and was spitting water every which way over the ocean.

I immediately yelled to everyone to come see (this was a first for us).  I was content to sit and experience the moment, but both my college-age girls yelled, “Take a photo,” then reached for their ever present cell phones.  My oldest was immediately texting all her friends and sending images before the thing even left our sight.

The difference?  It never occurred to me to record the event, but it was like second nature to my kids who grew up with a “capture the moment” mindset.

Got a chuckle the other day as I got a letter from Health Services at Penn State.  It appears that all new students must provide electronic verification that you’ve had your MMR shot.  A bit challenging for me since my family Dr is not longer living, nor are my parents, so records are a bit hard to come by.

Tried to get an exemption, but didn’t get a response, so had a blood test to check for immunization.  Let’s hope the shot I got back when I was 5 is still working.

For some crazy reason I decided in my late (I’m talking late) 40’s to leave the business world and go back to school to get my PhD.  I’m very excited about re-engaging my mind, learning a ton of new stuff, and starting a new career as a scholar, but I haven’t even really started yet and it’s already getting interesting being a “non-traditional” student.

I’ve had great support from my family and friends and am very sure that I want to set out on this journey.  It does mean lots of changes and lots of new situations.  Because I want to remember all the crazy parts of this journey I plan to write about it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly (movie reference).

Every space has its etiquette – both physical and online spaces.

When I first started messing around in the social media world I found  there were no guides who’d help me learn the lingo.  And, there was a bit of the “if you don’t know how it works, you’re an outsider – not one of us” mentality.  You either had to dive in or lurk around a while and try to figure out the etiquette on your own.  At least online you have a choice.

I recently attended the C&T conference at Penn State.  Many of the sessions were in their wonderful Cybertorium – a huge lecture hall with a 1 ½ story video screen, state of the art equipment, and sound system.  It also has about 15 tiers of stadium seating.

Arriving early to the conference, as I’m a bit of a punctuality freak, there were only 2 people in the room, both in the front row.  I wasn’t sure if they were the speakers or audience members.  I had no social cues about where people sit.  Do they tend to cluster at the bottom towards the speaker/teacher?  Do they hang in the middle or stick to the top rows?  I had to make a choice, so I worked my way closer to the front of the room.

People started entering the space and immediately gravitated towards the middle and back, leaving me way up front with just a few people in my row.  Awkward.  It appeared that I had chosen poorly.  Unlike in an online social space, I wasn’t able to lurk unseen and pick up on the social cues before jumping in.  Of course, I could have left and come back later, but it got me thinking…

  • Do online social spaces allow new visitors to orient themselves before being “seen?”
  • Does this lesson the anxiety of entering new and unknown spaces?

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