I suppose I'll start my comparisons/contrasts of the two articles by commenting on the quotes I found most interesting.
From the first reading:
"We may wish to blame the technology for creating self-absorbed people, but more likely, egoists love social network sites because of their desire to exhibit themselves for the purposes of mass validation."
True. It's crazy to think that MySpace created MySpace whores, these whores just found an incredible social platform in MySpace. Even taking it way down from "whore," mostly everyone I know does put "their best foot forward" on their SNS because why the hell not? And when this topic segued into how musicians, politicians and the like use this same form of egotism to their benefit, I found it insulting how if I don't have a "cause," I shoud be criticised for flaunting myself on the internet. Who cares?
"Most users no longer seek out chat rooms or bulletin boards to discuss particular topics with strangers. Instead, they are hanging out online with people that they already know."
False. In the SNS world, maybe true, but that's a grand generalization and an insult once again to my generation. However, blogging is where this takes place, for sure. The most politically active and opinionated and EXPRESSIVE people I've encountered where in the blogosphere, where smart people write well-informed editorials about their political or causal opinions and equally well-informed commenters do their thing on the comments page.
In the second reading:
"perhaps we need to focus on the causes of alienation and disillusionment that stop people from participating
in communal and civic life. If we can figure out how to activate unmotivated groups, perhaps we can convince them to leverage their own networks and convince others to participate."
Here's your answer: Kids today have nothing threatening them. When I took a class about Rebels in American Film, we labored over the 1960s in the US and the wildly political and forcefully active ways of the youth. We debated this thoroughly, and Facebook "causes" or "groups" came into the conversation. Is this how kids rebel against what ails them, is this how they become activists? By uploading images and copy/pasting text into web templates and clicking about until "1,000,000 Must Join This Group To End World Hunger?"
Well, in the 1960s, consider the severe communication breakdown between generations, the youth and the adults, the new wave and the government, the JFK/MLK assinations, Nixon, fucking VIETNAM DRAFTS. Kids didn't have anything to do but fight back, and there were no PCs to sit back and fight through. There was the cosmic bonding of like minds, rock music, LSD and riot euphoria. Today, kids live a cushy life, waltz into college and are likely being taken care of by mom and dad or the government, and yet are the first to be apathetic and judgemental of politics and turn a deaf ear to it all and play video games instead of reading about what the fuck is going on in the world. Why should we care? We don't live in Darfur, we can afford gas for our car, we're not on welfare and we're not enlisted in the military.
Kids have nothing to fear, nothing to really threaten them, that's why they're apathetic, that's why they don't read the news, and that's why the Internet is used for collecting porn better than it is for youth civic action.
"Those environments should offer rich resources and peer training in the public communication,
organizing, and advocacy skills to help young people develop more effective voices and action."
Here's the solution. There is no doubt that youths today are motivation, opinionated, well-informed and well-equipped to become to dutiful citizens their parents want them to be. I know people like this here at URI. One of my best friends has become one of the most politically active and well-informed people I know, and she's 21 years old. And you know what she DOESN'T do? Rely on Facebook to get her message out there. Sure, she posts links, creates events, joins groups, etc. But she uses her actual, physical form, walks outside and talks to people, hosts live events, does research, attends meetings, listens, learns, and inspires people. If such an environment existed to train the hungry young people out there, then progress seems certain. I'm sure my friend would agree.
My thoughts on the two readings are basically that neither of these writers should make such rash generalizations about my generation, regardless of their research. They are mostly correct, but they can't assume that the opposite is untrue as well. I think Facebook isn't the way to go, because that's not what it's for, and they need to get over it. Blogs are where they should go to spread their message and gather their followers. And colleges shouldn't give up on their goal to train young people into adults. Go to seminars, talks, colloquiums. Dutiful Citizen professors and instructors should make this sort of live action available. The internet is not the starting point, but it can be the highway that spreads the information across the world.