Idealising the past: Being unsocial

A few weeks ago the following picture was doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, under the heading: “modern technology makes us more unsocial”:

Newspapers on train

There’s an excellent point to be made in this photo, and in the similar I found below. Older generations often idealise their past. Our memories are designed to sift out the bad and keep the good, and work in such a way that affirming and reinforcing memories are multiplied in our consciousness. This has the effect of warping our view of the past.

When it comes to technology, relationships and young people, too many older people look at the youth of today and lament loss. That might be loss of interaction, or loss of connection, or loss of relationship. They don’t see how technology might actually enhance some of these things.

For example, I am really impressed with some of what I see happening in the way young people choose whom they will date. The engage online and electronically first, interacting and chatting, and forming an intellectual connection first. Only then do they get together “in the real world” and see if there is a physical attraction. Of course, there are dangers to online dating (just as there are in the real world), but it seems a much healthier approach today than it was in my day. There are other examples.

Maybe the older generation needs to admit the idealisation of their youth, and start to look for positives in today’s technology, and in new ways of connecting and engaging. At very least, let’s stop pretending that “the good old days” were really all that great.

African businessmen on a train

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