Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Net Generation (2)

The new generation, the Net generation, aren't up on national Cultural Literacy because traditional culture doesn't really interest them. If you ask them to name Swaziland's current Cabinet, for example, they mostly have no idea; nor do they know who signed the American Declaration of Independence or who Genghis Khan was. They know who Gaddafi is, but not because they know about Libya--most couldn't find the country even on a map. They know about Gaddafi because he's rich, famous, and in the headlines now. This generation truly lives in an electronic, networked, Global Village. They can complete an Eminem quote, but not one by Churchill; they know what Rihanna's latest hairstyle is but can't tell you about Renoir; they know Trump makes money but not how. They think connectedly, not individually; globally, not locally. But contrary to doomsaying opinion they haven't lost their way; they have a genuine sense of identity, but it's collective rather than individual; international, rather than national; it's immediate rather than considered-- connected via Facebook and Mxit and the Net rather than by landlines, PCs or snail mail. And the old conundrum expressed in Pilate's (who's he?) question, What is truth? is more pertinent than ever, for what now is the difference between gossip and information, between genuine and false? All of it is viral. Is it true because it's in a book? Or because it's on the web? Or simply because so many are saying it?

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