Renaissance observer – techie timewaster

Have you walked through campus with your head in your phone, playing slice ninja or words with friends, checking your stocks and account balances, foursquaring for a good spot to get lunch, or just texting everyday nonsense to a friend? Welcome to the new digital divide – the age of surround-able ignorance.

With each phase of new technology – personal computers in the 80’s, internet in the 90’s, texting cell phones in the 00’s – the technologist pundits declared an incredible boom for communication. They were right – consuming hundreds of new discoveries, artworks and writings has become an everyday experience. But lately, the big news is just how much time we’re wasting.

Tumblr has skyrocketed the casual user base exposure to new media by simplifying and niching sites tighter than ever. Reddit and blogs require active participation, clicking all over the place, commenting when a thought pops into your head, suggesting other relevant topics. But with tumblr, all you need to do is hit that spacebar and auto load the next series of captivating pictures. For the 99% of internet users that prefer to lurk than create and participate, tumblr is the most interesting, least effort you can imagine.

I spoke previously of the renaissance observer, this generation of youth that consumes more art and ideas on a daily basis than our parents did in a decade, but at the cost of depth. That trend is growing, and appears to be hurting the least educated of us even harder.

The New York Times reported earlier today that teens of parents without a college degree spend 11.5 hours each day exposed to digital media, including tv, cell phones, game consoles and televisions. This is an increase of 4 hours and 40 minutes since 1999, and 1.5 hours more than the teen whose parents were college educated. Kaiser Family Foundation, the researchers, double counted time spent multitasking, e.g. on the computer while watching tv).

Other surveys have found an increasing amount of teen time is spent on facebook. With 900 million users, it is twice as large as every other major social networking site – Google+, tumblr, twitter, pinterest, myspace – combined. One of every seven minutes online is spent on facebook, and 3/4 minutes of social media time is on facebook. And what’s it replacing? In depth reading or tv watching, hobbies, and actually socializing with friends.

Drexel has long touted their advanced approach to technology, but Drexel students are just as victim to the timesucking black hole of shallow web surfing. I’m not sure if the Times end-is-neigh tone will be enough of a kick in the butt or if I’ll require a stand-up comic to be the thing that moves me, but it’s clear. When I get my head rattled by a closing elevator because it was jutted down and out staring at my cell, I may be ready to just keep it in my pocket a little longer.

Ari Melman is a Marketing and Economics Major. When not organizing pillow fights and outlandish games, he writes humorous adventure stories.

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