“The Dumbest Generation,” REALLY?!

The following things have probably been asked or said to those in my generation, Generation Y:

  • “You’re so lucky! Everything is at your fingertips with these smartphones and gadgets. If we wanted to get things donegeneration_y_1382555982_300x400, we had to literally do it ourselves.”
  • “You guys have it easy.”
  • “Is that all you kids do these days? Facebook and surf the internet?”
  • “When’s the last time you picked up a book? Do you read anything else besides gossip?”
  •  “I think you should spend your money on things that actually matter.”
  • “You people say a lot, but don’t do enough.”

One way or another, we get thrown into these types of confrontations. We are looked at as a generation that doesn’t know how to get their hands dirty because we are too busy making sure we don’t drop our smartphones. And even with the world at out fingertips, we still can’t solve issues like world hunger or find cures for serious diseases. We crave instantaneous answers, but never capable of giving our own. I mean, when are we ever going to get a break? I’m sure there are those who really are obsessed or can’t function without a device in their hands, but there are so many of us who are far beyond these stereotypes.

Mark Bauerlein sides with the dark opinions of many in his book “The Dumbest Generation.” It’s a critique of the new generation’s intellect and how much the “cyberspace” as changed us for the worse. For example, there are fewer people reading literature and knowing basic things about our history, despite having access to all that information. To put in more simple terms: Generation Y just doesn’t care at all and the whole world will come to an end because that promised future of strong intellectual individuals are no longer visible. That kind of hurts, because, well, I am a part of this generation whether I like it or not.

in Lee Drutman’s review of Mark Bauerlein’s “The Dumbest Generation,” it says,

.. instead of using the Web to learn about the wide world, young people instead mostly use it to gossip about each other and follow pop culture, relentlessly keeping up with the ever-shifting lingua franca of being cool in school. The two most popular websites by far among students are Facebook and MySpace. “Social life is a powerful temptation,” Bauerlein explains, “and most teenagers feel the pain of missing out.”

Is that where it all boils down to? Now, I can sit here and just reject everything that has been said about my generation and complain about how Bauerlein is being a bit harsh on us; but he has a point. Our time is completely different and how we connect with one another has changed. I know people who just talk about social media and gossip all day, without saying anything significant about politics. There’s also the rise of younger people committing suicide over things said online and being bullied constantly with faceless figures on websites. The Internet has given us so much, yet taken away a lot as well. I see Bauerlein’s concerns, as I see of those my parent’s, grandparents’, and teacher’s have. This power of the world-wide web is abused.

But what upsets me is that no matter how much so many of us are aware of the issues of technology and the Internet, we are still seen as people who don’t feel. We are viewed as selfish, stupid and full of ego. I don’t know about the rest of the people in my generation, but I am fully aware that I am more than the profile page on my social media sites. There’s more important things to read about than what Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are doing. I’m aware of the consequences of posting pictures on the Internet. I know there’s a world out there and a history to remember. I’m guilty of scrolling through social media instead of opening my textbooks first. I’m even guilty of shopping online instead of listening to class lectures. But you know what? I still take really good notes and ace exams. I pass all my classes and still want to do so. I still pay attention to my professors. I explore outside these four walls. I actually eat the food I take a picture of on Instagram. I talk about world issues and history. Basically, I am not as stupid as Bauerlein thinks I am. I worked my butt off to get to this place in my life. There were plenty of sleepless nights of studying and research. I’ve been through meltdowns. I still use a paper and pen and continue to read actual books. It’s not fair to judge us and label us as “the dumbest generation.”

My parents didn’t raise me to be lazy, mindless, good-for-nothing, self-absorbed, or stupid. Instead, they taught me to work hard and be humble. I would never want them to think they raised me to be a professional selfie taker. I want them to be proud and give them what they deserve. My parents are are loving, hardworking people, and as their child it’s my responsibility to make sure they are taken care of. As is the duty of every other child out there! So I challenge Bauerlein’s notion of a loss future. I sure as hell will not let my parents see that they did all of this for nothing and I hope I have people who feel the same way.

I want to hear from my fellow Millennials, my Generation Y peeps, what’s the biggest misconception about our generation? Are you buying into the hype of the “me” generation? Is there really something wrong with us?  And if you believe so, how can we change that? Because if there really is no future, then why do some of us still care?

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“That’s my song!”

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Music is probably one of the greatest gifts the world has to offer us. Just like reading and writing, it gives you this indescribable feeling; well at least for me it does. One can only describe it as being something in between magic and freedom.

It is no surprise when people say, “music is the universal language.” Many of us can listen to the same song, but hear it in a different way; we respond differently. That’s because we also have the gift of reason (some more gifted than others 😉 ). But when we listen to a song, what’s more important? Is it the instrumentals or the lyrics? Truly, it’s the combination of both. However, I’m more of a lyric kind of person. I’m sure I’m not the only one when I say music speaks to me. In situations like love, heartbreak, loss, or just a fun night with friends, we can always find that one song that fits the moment.

When talking about analytics, it’s always so closely tied to literature. We use in essays, poetry, short stories, basically anything with words. Which is pretty much… everything. So, music shouldn’t be disregarded as just another group of words plastered into a cloud of noise. It’s an art form and should be respected as such.

With the use of Rap Genius, people are able to talk about what the artist is trying to say in their music. Contributors can go line by line and link to other sources (which is super helpful!) in their lyrical annotations. What the viewer has to do is just click on a lyric and instantly, they can see someone’s annotation. Often times, there are more than one contributors for each line or verse, making it a pretty diverse set of analysis. Here are some songs I was able to look up in the website:


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Childish Gambino – Telegraph Ave 

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud 

Sia – Chandelier 

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody 

It’s really amazing to see people close-read all of these amazing songs. It puts to use the literary skills we learn when analyzing works by writers like Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, or Charlotte Brontë. When finding a song we really like, we listen to it over and over again, almost mesmerized by what we are hearing. Rap Genius gets us out of that rut of mindlessly listening to a song. These artists take their time and pour their hearts out onto their music. Like most of the stories we come across and analyze, we get to see that there is something behind the language they use. There’s personal connections to places, people, and phrases, which we would not be aware of if no one cared to look into it. Even the most senseless songs have a backstory.

Rap Genius not only caters to music goers, but those interested in history, literature, and even law as well. This goes to show that those in the digital age still care about content and continue to use traditional skills we’ve inherited throughout time. It’s an open community of people sharing valuable ideas, surrounding works that are truly significant to the past and present times.

As a music lover I usually say, “That’s my song” a little too often. There’s just so many great artists out there making music that unifies the world and that’s because of the message they put into their lyrics. It touches so many, in various, yet similar ways. There’s a reason why when Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down plays, I want to hide under my covers and cry. Or when Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off comes on the radio, I drop everything and look completely stupid as I bust dance moves in the middle of my room. We quote from these musicians just as often as we do those authors who give us books and poems. The content, the message behind these words are that freedom we get and the feeling is magic experienced. It’s more than just claiming something as your song, but seeing a connection as to why it is.

Cartoons on Digital Natives and Immigrants

Funny comics that show the difference between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The interactions between technology-wise children and their parents or other adults is raw material for cartoonists. I am not sure whether “digital natives” is a category that I would use but it is popular. After the cartoons, take a look at the at the article from The Chronicle of Higher Education that strips away the notion of “digital natives.” Enjoy!

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Dad and kid barter tech

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data on blackboard

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Finally, an article about current college students, “Confronting the Myth of the ‘Digital Native,’ ” gets at the holes in the knowledge bank of older, supposedly more technologically sophisticated, students.

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The New Social Elite

humanizing_technologyI speak the language of emojis and can also talk in Internet slang.  Depending on the time of day and the amount of patience I have within me, I’d say I’m pretty good with computers and troubleshooting. I know what the buttons on a DSLR camera mean and can work a smartphone better than I can organize my closet. I am definitely a Digital Native.

I grew up during the rise of instant messaging, social media, and texting. Now we have Skype, Siri, Google, and various apps that make our lives a little easier. But all of this must be frustrating to those we call Digital Immigrants, those still stick in the age of physical books and snail mail. The biggest distinction between Digital Natives to Immigrants is the language; we simply speak in different tongues while trying to explain and do the same things.

5209796269_3b538042c8_oWhat’s so amazing about technology is its ability to connect people unlike ever before. Imagine, a message had to once be delivered by horseback! That message took days to get to its destination, whereas now, it takes a few seconds to hit ‘send.’ Families and friends can stay updated with each other’s lives through Facebook and video messengers, instead of having to wait until your next visit. How we socialize and stay connected is completely different now. As you can tell, I am very much an advocate for the Digital movement. Though, to say I am completely immersed in this virtual world would be stretching it too far.

As fluent as I am in the Digital language, I have tendencies to generate an accent. I still love my physical books, writing in journals, and actually going out to see my friends instead of scheduling a video call session. Technology is creating new things so quickly that no matter how much I try, it becomes harder and harder to keep up. There are times when I just want to tune out of all the techy stuff, shut down my laptop, put my phone down and breathe. This generation, Generation Y, is so in touch with their profiles on the web that we forget about the person we are right now. We are obsessed with trends, what everyone is doing, who’s saying what, and how to get the latest gadget. Of course, there are some who are Gen-Y that aren’t as obsessed as others, but I wouldn’t believe you if you said you absolutely have no form of social media.

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Some Digital Immigrants believe that Millennials are part of the dumbest generation. Where all we care about is online profiles, instantaneous answers, and visuals. But I believe they are completely wrong. We still care about content! We care about international events and the stock market. We aren’t as numb to the world as others put it. What makes us different is the way we share that content. As long as we are able to stay in touch with one another without losing sight of the olden ways, Natives and Immigrants will always have some kind of commonality.

No matter what technological advances we may have in the future; if Facebook dims down to make light of a new social media, or flying cars will finally be in production, I will always remember the contribution of those before us. It’s fun to participate in this upbeat digital age, but it’s always important to look up and see that this world goes beyond the screen. There’s just some things in this world that can’t be digitized.

Diagnosis: Extreme Feels

20150128_202833I didn’t think pulling out these books would be chaotic, but it was. And I also realized it’s time to purchase a new shelf. Oh well, it is what it is!

As I scanned the rows of hardcovers and paperbacks, I noticed my obsession with contemporary young adult novels. Okay, maybe I knew and not just noticed it.

If I am what I read, then I am definitely contemporary YA. I have the heart of a sixteen year old and probably always will. I’ve cried, laughed, and fell in love so many times while reading these books it’s insane.  When I shop around for my next read I try to pick up something I wouldn’t normally get, but it never ever works. That’s what happens with obsessions, you tend to relapse. There’s just something about the stories that make me want to build my world around them.

Contemporary YA is fiction set in reality (does that make sense?), so you won’t see wizards, vampires, or mystical creatures. These are teens going through realistic situations, tackling issues that their readers can relate to.  I know that these novels tend to have that boy meets girl and girl falls in love sequence, but it’s also about how it all happens. It’s about how they fell in love, how they fell out of it, how they cope with their emotions, and everything in between. With the amount of books I’ve read which uses this romantic plot, I can honestly say no love story is exactly the same. And that is what’s so beautiful about them. You can always fall in love differently with each book you read. Aside from the romantic relationships, there’s true stories about friendships and family life. Contemporary YA is all about relatability.

I’ve diagnosed myself with what I call Extreme Feels while reading YAs. I’ve been pissed off, scared, nearly falling off my bed laughing, giddy and in complete ugly cry mode with most of my books. Thankfully, not all at the same time, just significantly close together. I’ve texted friends in ALL CAPS to put as much emphasis as I can with the near fatal emotions. I’ve stormed down the stairs to vent to my parents about all these issues addressed in the book and they’d look at me with weird faces. If I broke down each novel and pinpointed where and when these emotions were felt, we’d be here for a very, VERY, long time. Just trust me, Extreme Feels is a real thing.

Contemporary YA authors know how to take the words right out of my mouth. I’ve had (many) instances where I’m going through something and my current read causes me to stop mid-chapter as I undergo Déjà vu. It’s dramatically mind-blowing. And in that moment, I claim the book. There’s that instant connection where you don’t feel like you’re reading about someone else. As I re-read the line over and over, the words tend to go bold. Feelings are italicized and suddenly you’re quoting a whole dialog that sounds like one you had ten minutes ago. It’s so hard to write YA when just about every story has been told. However, a genius writer would know how to make you feel like it’s yours, yet not.

Reading is the closest thing we have to teleportation. There is nothing else out there that can give you that feeling of being immersed in another world, not even 3-D films. Even if the story is already written out for you, you still feel like you have the wheel. You allow it to  take you on this journey and witness everything as it unfolds. You have the creative power to shape the characters as you read them on paper. There’s nothing like holding a book, or in my case stuffing it into my face as I give out deep breaths because my brain cannot process what I just read. Spending hours flipping page after page is time not wasted. Inhaling words like they just took your breath away is an irreplaceable feeling. So many books, not just YAs, have allowed me to live, die, and resurrect a million times over. Whoever told you “you only live once” lied. Maybe they should read more often.

For The Love of #Technology!

409323466We are in the age of Selfies and #hashtags.

Where we stress about how we can fit what we want to say in 140 characters and emojis are an actual language of their own.

And as much as we are obsessed with gadgets, social media, and the next big thing, we are also aware of how much times have changed.

As for me, I couldn’t imagine my life without technology. My cellphone is basically my husband, my laptop is my child, and my camera is my brain. We are able to communicate with people around the globe in a matter of seconds and get answers almost instantaneously. I don’t have to wait for film to be developed, I can upload pictures immediately, and have it viewed by friends and family as soon as it’s done. I’m a social media junkie and love photography, but I am not limited to this screen in front of me. It has changed the world, and I love it, but humanity is something that can’t be replaced. We should remember and be aware that the person next to us is far more important than a tweet. We shouldn’t judge someone by what generation their phone is or the brand they use. We still need those coffee dates with friends and witness them laugh out loud. We need to actually hug our loved ones than send them an “xox” text. A phone call away isn’t the same as being there.

To stay in touch, means to actually be in touch.