I have found that students prefer to discuss problems in class over the internet, as they don't have to face a professor face to face. I wonder why. I feel it is a fear of that connection or is it a fear of negative feelings? Students are bombarded with images where bad things happen, and the person walks away having brushed it off. I wonder if we are programming our children not to feel, as this is what it "should" be? But then in class, we get into a discussion of facebook, and within my class, there is a divide between those that can't live without it and those that want nothing to do with it.
I feel that perhaps we are dealing with a number of issues here:
- In our culture, people are not expected to be sad for long periods of time (as with the co-worker whose boss commented 6 months after the death of her teenage sister, "it's been 6 months. You should be over that now."). As a result, the internet has become a vehicle for "closet sadness" or anger or any negative feelings. In fact, the anonymity the internet gives us, allows these emotions to go to the extreme.
- Our culture is "short-term": short-term results, short-term relationships, short-term learning. As a result, there is a lack of depth and reflection in much that we do. I am not sure how to change this as I don't see our culture changing. However, tools such as blogs might be one step.
- We live in a culture of cutting down instead of building up. This is something that I see beginning to change. While the political races still "cut down", I find many times that it is in response to an out side force (usually a sound-bite from the press). However, I find that the new online media and access to full speeches has made it possible to see how many people have a common vision which is different than our current society. I have seen a move towards convergence (think of what is happening in New Orleans now, when nothing seemed to happen for the first 2 years after the flooding and wind damage).