Sometime ago I watched a TV program by Deutsche Welle. It was a documentary about the use of social media by kids and “how harmful” the exposure to digital technology in an early age is. I am used to the German fatalism. I lived there for 3.5 years and depending on the documentaries I watched then, one quickly concludes the world was destroyed about 20 years ago 🙂
Is our digital technology dangerous? First of all, I am pretty sure the same accusation was made when Gutenberg showed his movable types to the world, or when Tomas Alva Edison showed how easy it was to record the human voice, or even when that first scientist/priest showed to some King of Uruk that innovative technology called cuneiform writing. Did you get it? All communication technologies which changed the world, and I bet, they were attacked.
I guess we are intrinsically conservative by nature. We learn in an early age the existing communication technology of the time and we have the tendency to stick to this. When something new appears, we approach it cautiously.
I still remember my first experiences with social media. I began, if remember right, with an Orkut account. This social media was a fever here in Brazil and appeared as quickly as it disappeared. Then I discovered LinkedIn and a social medium maintained by the University of Sao Paulo. Then a colleague from the Philosophy course convinced me to open a Facebook account.
I had my experiences in writing long texts before. I was part of the generation which bothered the friends with long e-mails of analysis of something. This was a pre-blog era and most of the texts produced then were lost. So I decided to create my own blog.
Now I am a constant user of social media. I use most of the tools (but I refused to use Whatsapp, it is too invasive). I discovered friends in the social media (Milos, for example), I discovered ResearchGate, a most useful social medium.
What I want to say with all this is that it is natural to be conservative in the communication, but this does not mean it is impossible to use new technologies. We, professors, in particular, need to stay alive in the social media. This is the language of the youth we teach to. If we want to connect with them, we should share (no pun intended).
As for the kids, my 12 years old daughter os currently addicted to Whatsapp. Am I worried? A bit, but I am also aware that If I was in her position, I would be addicted too. The kids communicate. They will use technology. We must get used to it. And I say more: they will survive.