Are we not entertained?

| Forum Editor
Mike Hirshon | Student Life

Mike Hirshon | Student Life

There are points when I fear that my lifestyle is unsustainable. For example, after a Jimmy John’s sandwich. Then there are those rare, fleeting moments when I breach the fortress of narcissism and consider the lives of others. In this case, I fear for our generation and those younger than we are.

We are living in a world of constant access; to entertainment, locations, substances, people, foods, basically anything. We are constantly multitasking, looking for the next YouTube video to take our minds off the essay we were writing 20 minutes ago.

We are a generation of distraction. A tumultuous mob of fast paced, twitchy 18 to 20-somethings who have no concept of calm. We have a persistent need to be occupied. Do any of us just sit with our own thoughts? I sure as hell do nothing of the sort. The prospect of allowing myself to reconcile with the multitude of ideas running through my head is terrifying.

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My father can, even likes, to sit with a cigar and just read a newspaper or listen to jazz. He does nothing else. He would do this for an hour, even two. More if he doesn’t have work to do. My reaction to this: WTF?

We are an A.D.D. generation, and I fear that it is only going to get worse. In 10 years a 20-year-old will be playing videogames while writing a paper (telekinetically sending sentences to a computer), all the while snorting even more ubiquitous and potent versions of Adderall to keep him focused.

That really isn’t so different from today. We are constantly on our cell phones, whether it be in class, at lunch or at the dinner table. Study drugs float around like candy. If you want other drugs, those can be found too, let’s not be naïve.

If I were to put myself in my dad’s chair, the picture would be very different. I’d have my phone out, my computer would be on my lap with at least three windows open and I’d hardly be thinking or even listening to the music, which most likely would not be jazz. Jazz is too slow; it’s not engaging enough.

I’ve managed to have two conversations going simultaneously, one via text, and the other in person. What was the result of this? I have no idea what I said to either person, but somehow I managed to say something.

Have you ever tried leaving your phone somewhere for a few hours? It’s an excruciatingly liberating feeling. It feels as if someone took your connection to the outside world and hacked at it with an ice pick, yet at the same time, you feel more involved with your immediate surroundings. I found myself fraught with concern over the fact that I may not be responding to someone immediately, and at the same time found that very same distance to be empowering.

I wonder if it is getting to the point where we’re going to burn ourselves out. When there is simply a sensory overload. Will comedy cease to tickle our funny bones? Will we fail to empathize with others? Will there never be enough culinary variety? Is everyone going to be inhaling study drugs just to keep up with the pace of our culture? I wonder if a world of absolute connectivity and access will result in a connection to nothing?

But hey, before we get to that place, don’t forget to pop an Adderall, eat a burrito with a side of spring rolls, text your friends while eating your multicultural lunch with two others, all while doing the StudLife crossword puzzle. Why? Because we can.

  • Well done

    Thanks for this well-reasoned and desperately-needed article.

    “We are constantly on our cell phones, whether it be in class, at lunch or at the dinner table.” – Don’t forget on airplanes, of course, like the Wash. U. students on the flight back from winter break with me. FAA rules be damned, they need to text constantly!

    Saying something can’t be equivalent to saying the right thing, or even “physically” speaking at all. Some relationships are built entirely on texted communications – are those even real relationships?

    The problem is not only our generation. Ever see business executives come out of a meeting and start fiddling with their Blackberries like there’s no tomorrow? Somehow, the businesspeople of yesteryear managed without those devices, and looking at the economy now, they seemed to do OK back then too.