Use this forum to share any thoughts you have about the PBS documentary Digital Nation.
I think the scariest part of Digital Nation was the part where the military attempts to recruit young children using video games. It was beyond sick to get children so fired up about simulated violence, and have them form that association of "fun" with the army.
Another thing that struck me was the girl at MIT who seemed completely dependent on her Blackberry. I know plenty of people who like those kinds of phones so much they refer to it as their "crackberry," but it didn't really occur to me how serious the situation was until I just checked my text messages. The average number of texts from my friends with smartphones is significantly higher than my friends with normal phones. The same trend used to be true of my friends with keyboard phones, and even before that with those whose phones had T9. Two years ago, when keyboard phones were new, if someone had told me that I would receive 50 texts in a day from someone, I would not have believed them. But as the technology becomes easier to use and more intuitive, it becomes increasingly integrated in our lives. I am not saying better technology is a bad thing, but it makes it even easier to get out of hand. I don't need 50 trivial messages on my phone from people I see every day. I feel like it creates a "second world" in the same way described by the mother at the start of Digital Nation. Instead of being off in our own separate universes, it is definitely time we all sat down to dinner.
One of the first things that made an impression with me in Digital Nation was when Rachel Dretzin explained “…it just kinda snuck up on us. I didn’t see it coming”. It is sort of awesome, that have a foot in each world- that we are in the middle of this shift towards a world dominated by technology and that we can watch as it unfolds.
Secondly, although the documentary focuses on some of the positive aspects of the internet, for basically every positive aspect, there is a negative counter-example- While technology is helping kids in the south bronx , its hurting students at Stanford. While interactive gaming can create lasting friendships and bonds, it also is a source of addiction. Digital Nation demonstrates well how deeply technology (specifically internet technology) has permeated every aspect of our lives- like MJ, I was struck as well by how attached and dependent MIT and Stanford students were to their technology and multi-tasking lifestyle, for example. I think what this touches upon is that the internet is more than just a tool for human use, it is seriously changing how humans function on a biological, scientific, level.
For me the concern then becomes whether the impact that the internet and internet technology is having on my brain now will at some point be irreversible. Whether by gaining knowledge, skills, and tools in one area, I am destroying an equally important set of skills and knowledge in another area. What is fascinating is that although we are seeing the negative ways it can affect us and the way technology can be used to manipulate us (take for example, the “Army Experience Center”), no one is really trying to slow things down. Understandably, studies are not totally conclusive, and no one wants to call it too soon or appear to be an inhibitor of human progress. I guess we just wait and see what happens?
I had a really adverse reaction to watching military personnel playing Call of Duty, and to using video games to recruit kids.
I mean, hay, yeah, if those kids are all gonna join the military and get cushy jobs piloting drones or writing paperwork, cool. But if they're going out into the field, so to speak?
I'm not okay with that.