Stay-At-Home Extroverts A Digital Downer

After Thomas Friedman unilaterally announced in the New York Times that the digital generation is way too quiet (labeling it Generation Q), my upchuck reaction was to go online and hate on him on the comment strings of various blog posts and news articles alike. I mean, c’mon! Quiet? If anything, the Internet generation is more opinion-prone and noisy than any other that came before it. Friedman’s assessment did not go down easy with me—after all, I spend most of my time using online as my own personal soapboax, and I know I’m getting heard. I’m proud to say that I’ve skillfully learned the particulars of Internet patois, and I like to think I wield this language with understated professionalism.

After thinking about it some more, however, I’m starting to believe Friedman’s observation was actually teeming with tenacity--more so than I would have ever cared to admit. Here’s my reasoning: The Internet—and on a wider scale, technology in general—used to be the exclusive terrain of techno nerds and Asperger’s geeks. After all, it is easy to tune out through technology when your EQ is on the short end of the bell curve. Now though, being IT literate is a must for anyone who wishes to make meaningful (and lasting) connections with others or for the professional who wants to plump up his or her career. More than this, the Internet has given us the opportunity to work from virtually anywhere—no need to leave our place of residence. Ha! Here’s the rub…

Now, many socially adept professionals have confined themselves to their homes. It is not odd for me to find many a friend on a Friday night at home, hair unwieldy, clothes disheveled, going at it on their laptop computers, desperate to yap it up with anyone who crosses their way. If I was coming home dead tired after a day of hard work, the last thing I would want to do is chat the night away with a smelly roommate in ratty clothes that has spent hours consumed in the Web. A total downer indeed.

Stay-at-home extroverts are a silent byproduct of the digital explosion. I believe high-powered driven types should salvage the wreckage and get office jobs, even if technology allows them to work from home. So what’s your take on this phenomenon? Are we all slowly and silently turning geek?


Ruben said...

I don’t think Friedman was putting you down – or better yet, what you do. To me, he was saying that Generation Q is quiet because being plugged in, on-line, all the time, circumvents conventional forms of active citizenship or civic duty.

To illustrate, I joined a group on Facebook in support of the Saffron Revolution in Myanmar. On a psychic level, I feel great and think I’m a pretty awesome guy. However, on a practical level, would my efforts be better served by doing as the Buddhists do? WWJD?

I am not undercutting the immense power of the internet in brining people together - undoubtedly, the digital age provides for democratic (not just geeks) and global participation in the discourses of civil society. I’m just saying that perhaps, in our time, it is still important to be louder than the click of a mouse.

jpastor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jpastor said...

I'm way louder than the click of a mouse. There's the patter that emanates as I furiously type away at my keyboard, plus the iTunes blaring at full force through my headphones. So to Jesus I say, suck it. Go make chairs or something wooden or whatever.

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