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Plus Ça Change…

January 30, 2008

Two completely different blog posts have caught my attention tonight. One from Alec Couros, the other from the Bass-Player… but both are related in a telling way.

Earlier I read with some horror Dr. Alec Couros‘ account of the real life ‘fight clubs’ that are being perpetuated, or even occasioned, by YouTube et al. One of his quotes comes from Yvonne Roberts’ Guardian article from November last year about attempting to identify where the violencification of society has come from. In it, Roberts speculates that:

…we think that a minute on YouTube or Facebook is worth several deaths or the ritual public humiliation of another human being…

People’s desire for notice and ‘fame’ is overtaking the basic empathy that Ian McEwan called “…the essence of compassion, and … the beginning of morality.” Part of me wants these eloquent writers and thinkers to be wrong, but every day I see small signs that indicate they may be all too correct: pupils with little empathy for the feelings and needs of others are not new… but there appear to be more and more of them… and then, just when you think it’s time to give up and find something else to do (like direct fight videos for YouTube), you realise that there are others who can navigate the moral morass quite well…

Sean the Bass Player’s latest post goes a long way to redressing the balance. He has been reflecting on his achievements of the past year… which is no mean feat for a sixteen year old in the first place… but in doing so, he hits on a truth that struck a chord with what Alec Couros had written. Sean is acknowledging the influence that Web2.0 tools have had on his life over the past year, and interestingly, he notes that “…most of these things are not normally acknowledged as ‘achievements’.” But this doesn’t bother him because of the personal satisfaction he has received… unlike some of his peers who he notes would “…rather be out doing something that will get them noticed over their peers…”.

I can’t help but think that what Sean has found is an interest that is non-destructive, challenging, rewarding and ultimately as far removed from the ‘fight-clubs’ that Alec Couros told us about… and yet Sean is the same age as many of those who are producing the videos.

Children People have fought throughout human history but we are worried because the evidence of this has never been easier for others to see than it is now, and maybe that ‘ease of audience’ lies at the heart of the problem. Anyone with a mobile phone can receive attention for filming himself (or herself) and uploading it: instant, pointless, unthinking gratification… or perhaps… with careful mentoring and opportunities, that same person could be a reflective and articulate bass player? Let’s hope so.

Image: Opposite by zoen
2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2008 1:29 am

    Articulate… who, me?! nah! I only got a C last year 😉

    Interesting take on my post… I like. I personally thought it turned out to be more of a ramble than anything else, but I’m glad someone made sense of it. Was shocked when I got to the end of writing and realised I hadn’t really said much about what I’d achieved, oh well.

    Anyway, just about to get stuck in to Dr. Couros’ post… but I’d like to just agree and say that it really does seem like there is more and more of this yobish behavior present in society, but whether the ‘seeming’ is just because we are becoming more aware of it or not is to be debated. One of the beauties, and also downfalls (in this situation) to web 2.0 technologies is of course the reach it has. We are never going to be totally able to stop yobs crowding our streets, and now our webpages, but what we can do is teach the masses how to use this technology wisely, and productively… thus giving the countries teenagers alternative uses for these tools and also helping to cut back the amount of this extremely uncool behavior presently seen on the net.

  2. January 30, 2008 10:43 am

    Our ancestors were were extremely bloodthirsty. The gladiator battles in the arena being a perfect example or the masses being entertained by fighting.

    The notion that technology is somehow the cause of this and that we are somehow innocent creatures who have been perverted by it is farsical.

    I think technology has done much more to tame us than we realise.


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