Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tomorrow's Crosscurrent: The Ipod Generation and the JPII Generation (part II)

The television- and subsequently the computer –not only had a psychological impact on the individual, but they also had a social effect on local communities and neighborhoods. As early as the 1970’s, the decade of my childhood years, neighborhoods were a little social network of households. As a child I remember knowing families who lived six, seven houses down the street. Very few people in my neighborhood were strangers. And yet, today, it is a different world. Although I know the neighbors who live adjacent to my house, beyond that, I am virtual strangers with the people down the street. I am assuming my neighborhood is representative of most.

In the television and computer age, there was less and less incentive for people to go outside and mingle. With higher crime rates and having less familiarity with the people in our neighborhoods, parents do not let their children venture beyond their purview. As such, the size of the playground for each child is considerably smaller than it used to be. Neighborhoods are no longer a social network of households like they once were; instead, it is a place where families live side by side with one another. This new neighborhood phenomenon is not child-friendly. In other words, parents have to be on guard when their children play; making sure they know where they are at all times.

Historically, these conditions have, more often than not, empowered the State. When we no longer know or trust our neighbor, we are inclined to rely on government to protect us from the neighbor we no longer trust or know. As Alexis de Tocqueville once said, despots do not mind that their subjects do not love them; so long as they do not love each other. When citizens can no longer rely on their local community- for whatever reason –then the intervention of the State in the form of protection or provision will be in higher demand.

Enter the Ipod generation: What the television was for households in neighborhoods, ipods and the like will be for individuals in families and society in general. The constant use of ipods, ipads, and text messaging will compromise relationships and will even put a burden on everyday face-to-face interactions. Instead of making households into little islands like the television age has done, it will isolate and compartmentalize individuals who are in the same room. Of course, as with any good thing, these gadgets has its definite advantages. But the immoderate use of them will have a depersonalizing effect on relationships.

An even more important consideration is the challenge it portends for a person's spirituality. And this is what the JPII generation will have to be mindful of as it embarks to "make disciples of all of the nations." What I see developing among today's youth are three trends which are likely to be a big part of tomorrow's culture.

Those three considerations on the next blog-