Karen Lillington wrote a phenomenal article for the Irish Times titled "Information Flatulence". Great title, too - am pretty sure it's taken from the book, now that I immodestly think about it ... It's fascinating to see how various countries are viewing "the experiment." I've had mail from China, Poland, Spain, Chile, Korea, Turkey, Hungary ... and Brazil, where the publishing rights have just been sold. There's no doubt about it. Sometimes technology really can be our friend.
Information Flatulence Karen Lillington
WHEN TWO small girls, aged 10 and 12, were trapped in a storm drain in Australia in 2009 they might easily have perished. Fortunately, they had their mobile phones with them and immediately sought help – by updating their status on their Facebook pages. Lucky for them, a schoolfriend quickly saw the update, the authorities were notified and they all lived happily ever after.
The story, one of many amusingly telling yet quietly alarming anecdotes in Susan Maushart’s The Winter of Our Disconnect , perfectly illustrates her starting premise that Digital Natives – those children and young adults who have never known anything but a life with their faces turned towards screens and the internet – think and act differently from those of us who can remember a world before “friend” became a verb.
The Natives live in a world of intense connectivity and media saturation. More than 90 per cent of US teenagers are online, and they spend about as much time connected to the internet as they do sleeping: the equivalent of a full working day. Three-quarters have a mobile phone, two-thirds have their own computer, most have a TV in their bedroom and more than 90 per cent have an iPod or other music player. The figures are probably broadly similar over here.
“They’re kids who’ve had cell phones and wireless Internet longer than they’ve had molars. Who multitask their schoolwork alongside five or six other electronic inputs, to the syncopated beat of the Instant Messenger pulsing insistently like some distant tribal tom-tom,” Maushart writes.
So what would happen if you disconnected that giant digital umbilical cord? Exiled the computers, hid the gaming devices, dropped the net connection, put the TVs in the garage?