Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SnapChat Got Me Thinking

Catching up on my blog reading, I stumbled upon this video about SnapChat.

Full confession here... I don't use SnapChat and have no intention to get started. However, the blog entry intrigued me, and I thought I would watch the video since SnapChat is so wildly popular with students these days.

Thoughts flooded my mind as I watched the video, but I'll try to limit them to two main topics.

1. What is the value of sharing my entire day (my story) with you and the rest of the world? This summer, I read a very interesting novel called The Circle by Dave Eggers (my review here), which was a real eye-opener of what our world's obsession with social media could become if left unchecked. As much as the idea of showing every aspect of my day sounds good, the reality is some things are best left unpixelated. John Spencer summed that up beautifully in this recent post (though he came at it from a different angle).

2. This is the direction our society is moving. Our faculty is reading Artificial Maturity by Tim Elmore this year. I'm holding off on a full-fledged book review till I'm done the book (one of only three I'm reading right now). Elmore writes about Generation iY  -- those born in the 1990s -- and their collective struggle to become mature adults. One of the causes of this phenomena is living life online. Our students are glued to their devices and spend more time sharing posts and pics with their friends than their own families. While watching the above video, I was stunned that Jerome Jarre could gain a million followers by just being online.

Based on what I've written so far, you can probably guess I see a problem forming in our world. The problem isn't SnapChat specifically or social media in general. My concern is that we'll spend so much of our time online that we'll forget to live offline.  To quote a character in The Circle, "Do you even go outside anymore?"

Even as I write this, I realize I'm guilty as charged. SnapChat isn't my thing, but I know I have tendency to be addicted to the social media I do participate in. If I'm not careful, my face can be pointed at a screen more so than the living, breathing human beings sitting in the same room as me, some of whom are infinitely more important to me than those people on the other side of the screen.

Technology will be a part of life for the foreseeable future.  Indeed, barring a real-life Revolution it would seem that being a technonerd will be a viable skill for everyone moving forward. While social media is not exactly a necessary thing in our lives, it provides good entertainment, connection, and even learning.  It's not a bad thing...in moderation.

Moving forward, our job as educators is teach a balance in these things.

  • It's great to be online with our friends, but when was the last time you spent a half hour with your family and no screen?
  • It's wonderful to see many things outside our own world online, but when was the last time you actually enjoyed something outside?
  • What is more important -- winning a level on a game or trying out something adventurous?
  • Learning from your device is good, but so is exploration and exploration.  When was the last time your hands got dirty?
What do you think? Am I off base here? I welcome your comments below. 

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