Upon opening Monday’s edition of The Michigan Daily, I stumbled across a column claiming that today’s youth lack necessary one-on-one communication skills because of their obsession with high-tech gadgetry (The BlackBerry Blues, 10/26/2009). The author, Leah Potkin, works under the naïve and romantic assumption that human beings communicated more freely and eloquently before the advent of e-mail and instant messaging. Rather than offering any real insight on the way technology affects our interactions, she partakes in simple nostalgia. While she goes on about how our generation can’t even “keep up a five-minute conversation,” she ignores all of the positive changes technology has made in the world. In one breath, she laments the fact that young people are continually on phones and that communication has lost “that human touch.” But in the very next breath, she claims that because our grandparents didn’t have this technology, “they were forced to pick up the phone and have one-on-one conversations far more often than we do today.” How exactly can one claim that cell phones deprive us of human contact and then hold up our grandparents talking on old dial rotary phones as the epitome of human contact? Never mind the fact that video conferencing, Skype and picture messaging allow us to hear, see and share things with family and friends that older generations had to miss out on.

To explain what is wrong with our generation, she offers anecdotes about her own family. As a person who grew up in the same household as a grandparent, I can honestly say that I couldn’t disagree more with her conclusions. But maybe that’s part of the problem. Since everyone has their own experiences with technology and family, personal anecdotes aren’t enough to support such sweeping claims about entire generations of people.

Taylor Stanton
Senior, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

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