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Turkle argues that technology has fundamentally changed how people view themselves and their lives (271). She reports that, “BlackBerry users describe that sense of encroachment of the device on their time. One says, ‘I don’t have enough time alone with my mind’; another, ‘I artificially make time to think…’” (274). Her point is that people have to make a deliberate choice to disconnect, to exist in their own mind rather than the virtual world (Turkle 274). Another point Turkle brings up is that in this technologic age children are not learning to be self- reliant. Without having the experience of being truly alone and making their own decisions, children are not developing the skills they once did (Turkle 274). As Turkle reports, “There used to be a moment in the life of an urban child, usually between 12 and 14, when there was a first time to navigate the city alone. It was a rite of passage that communicated, ‘you are on your own and responsible.
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In her article, Rockler-Gladen argues that the media and its inherent advertising affect the values and behavior of people. Bombarded by the media with increasing amounts of information and images of the worsening state of our society, members of Generation Y have withdrawn into a state of “cyber-isolation” showing little interest in politics or activism (Rockler-Gladen 287-289). Because Generation Y has grown-up in a world where they have been targeted by advertising from an early age, they tend to gauge their happiness by the amount they consume. Rockler-Gladen illustrates this by writing, “Ask a Gen Y member which mall he or she grew-up in, and you may well get an answer” (288). Rockler-Gladen further supports her argument when she observes that media not only affects the individual but society as a whole, effectively changing how society views politics, ideology, and the economy (288). As Rockler-Gladen put it, “It’s three years into their own Vietnam, and they aren’t exactly flooding the streets with protesters. Often students tell me that they find politics boring and irrelevant to their own experiences” (289). Since today’s young people have been marketed to from an early age their values and sense of which issues are important have been manipulated. Political or social problems seem less important than the latest video game or reality show.
Technology and media have altered young people in ways that could not be foreseen. While tech manufactures and media companies want to have an effect on young people, I do not believe the current situation was their intent. These effects can be seen in that some people have become so attached to their devices they seem unable to put them down. This can be seen at any school or mall: young people walking around wearing their i-pod while madly tapping away on their device, oblivious to the world around them. The draw of the digital world would appear to be so powerful that young people are incapable of resisting it long enough to walk from one place to another. This inability shows the extent people have become entangled with their devices, blurring the line between self and device. Furthermore, the media has distorted society’s sense of reality to the point where television shows purported to be “reality shows” are accepted, even though these shows are anything but real. Reality shows glamourize teen mothers, polygamists, and simply people behaving badly, as if these are things to aspire to. What does this say about the state of our society when “reality” must be manufactured?
To sum up, technology and the media have forever changed what we refer to as normal. Are the days of quiet contemplation, self-reliance, civic and political awareness gone forever? If this is to be the new norm, what will society look like in twenty years? Will children be even more dysfunctional? All members of society should be concerned because no one knows if, or when, this trend will end or what the final effect will be. Perhaps people will begin to miss the one-on-one interaction and choose to unplug and socialize, who knows? It could happen. However, in the end it does come down to individuals making a choice.