Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dueling Texters - A Tragicomedic Modern Event

Our nearby little community of Clearwater, Kansas, had its annual Fall Festival a couple weeks ago. The weather was lousy, but turnout seemed better than I expected. As usual, I've at least glanced at articles about the event in the local paper, not really expecting to find out anything useful, but curious to keep learning about our newly adopted hometown.

A photo of 4 teenagers standing under a picnic pavilion roof, intently focused on something in their hands while rain poured down in the background, caught my eye in last week's hometown paper. Reading the article, I don't know whether to laugh or cry....

It seems that attendance at the Fall Festival has been traditionally good for the elementary age and younger set, as well as for the adult crowd, but attendance by the middle school and high school age group has been declining for many years now. In a move of sheer brilliance, the game organizer changed the venue to include lots of different video games and...(wait for it!)...text messaging competitions. The local phone company donated 5 cell phones - one for the judge and 4 for the contestants, preset with judge's phone number. The first of each round of 4 contestants' to text the message, "Let Bygones Be Bygones.", to the judge's phone won. After those "qualifying rounds", there were texting duels in a bracket tournament.

I am in awe of this inspiration for increasing young adult attendance at the Fall Festival. I am also LMAO (to quote my son) at the picture of intense teenaged concentration captured by the paper photographer. At the same time, I'm deeply saddened - is this what our young folks are most entranced by? At the peak of their physical prowess, as they are developing neural pathways that have to stand them in good stead for the rest of their adult lives, it is video games and cell phone texting that draw them into competition and some semblance of communication and participation in community life.

The next few decades could be very interesting. I just wish I were observing from the outside, not roped in as an automatically involved participant in this large scale human development experiment.

6 comments:

qkslvrwolf said...

Response here

Gaia gardener said...

I've been slammed.

qkslvrwolf said...

You tend to be extremely reactionary about some things. It wasn't intended as a slam, so much as an attempt to get you to at least acknowledge that the future isn't automatically a barren wasteland just because those darn kids just won't stop...using the tools that are available to them.

Gaia gardener said...

It's not that I worry about those kids who, like you did, bridge both the technological and nontechnological worlds - it's those that never get outside to smite dragons in the pasture, those whose ONLY fantasies are found in videogames, those who literally have never noticed a bug except to squash it, those who can't comprehend that their food comes from plants growing in the soil and animals eating those plants. Those are the kids I worry about...and the adults.

Even Shelley commented on their recent visit that many of the city folks she knows don't seem to comprehend the vastness of the land and the infrastructure (and the dirt and the smells and the sweat) it takes to provide the food we all eat.

How can voters or politicians make good choices aabout policies affecting food, land, water, etc., when they have no understanding of how such things support all of us?

qkslvrwolf said...

Heh, what a perfect segue into why you need to read Taking on the system! You rock!

Submerged Truth said...

You do have a point, Mom. A very valid point that is constantly brought to attention by professionals who care for children (i.e. pediatricians and adolescent psychiatrists) and spend their life dealing with the consequences of our societal "advances". As with everything in life and in history, there are always detriments to every so called advancement. We would foolishly naive to simply accept all new technology as good simply because it is new and different. Just as it is our responsibility as citizens to question our government and our society, so is it our responsibility to question our systems and our technology. Doing so is not an outright rejection of them, but merely an acknowledgment that no, technology is not, as some would have you believe, a panacea. To think otherwise is foolishly naive and close-minded. Please, keep discussing and questioning our ever evolving world. I, for one, am not threatened by your thoughts and welcome the dialogue.