Don’t Blame Social Media if Your Teen is Unsocial. It’s Your Fault.
Microsoft’s Danah Boyd has spent a decade interviewing hundreds of teens about their online lives. The result is a books It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens and its conclusion is that parents are to blame for the unsociability of their teens.

Specifically, that teenagers would love to socialize face-to-face with their friends. But adult society won’t let them. “Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They’re addicted to each other,” Boyd says. “They’re not allowed to hang out the way you and I did, so they’ve moved it online.”

Factors that have “imprisoned” our teens include the media’s over-publicizing of rare child-abduction cases, sensationalized reporting of youth gangs, anti-loitering laws, fewer public spaces, and  increased competition to get into college meant well-off parents began heavily scheduling their kids’ after-school lives.

The result, Boyd discovered, is that today’s teens have neither the time nor the freedom to hang out. So their avid migration to social media is a rational response to a crazy situation. They’d rather socialize F2F, so long as it’s unstructured and away from grown-ups.

Charles Blow’s Self-Defeating Column Against Christianity
Brilliant analysis by Denny Burk of Charles Blow’s NYT piece Indoctrinating Religious Warriors. Here’s an extract:

There is so much wrong with Blow’s article that it’s difficult to know where to start. But perhaps I should point out the fundamental self-defeating contradiction at the heart of it. Blow argues that the “war” on Christians is a lie. There really isn’t any threat at all for Christians to be concerned about. Then he spends the rest of his article in a sustained assault on Christianity. He castigates Christians ignorant enough to believe that God created the world apart from evolutionary processes. He looks down his nose at Christians who are so unenlightened as to believe what the Bible teaches about marriage….In other words, Blow has no problem with Christianity as long as it never contradicts the spirit of the age and never makes claims of any public consequence—which is another way of saying, “I have no problem with Christianity so long as it ceases to be Christian.”

What Drives us to Do the Right Thing?
In Romans 7:8-10, the Apostle Paul describes the paradox of laws against sin actually producing sin. He basically says that before hearing laws against sin, he didn;t want to  sin, but when he heard “Don’t/Do that or else,” sin was stirred up and multiplied. “The law came, sin revived, and I died.”

Now we have modern research that confirms and illustrates this weird and twisted aspect of human nature.

Example 1: A handful of parents are habitually late to pick up their kids from pre-school. The school sends out a note, urging timeliness: “Please be considerate of our wonderful staff who, after a long day of caring for your kids, are tired and want to go home,” etc.

This works with some parents, but there are still chronic offenders. The school finally becomes punitive. Parents who are late start getting a fine added to the tuition bill. What happens? Against all seeming logic, the incidence of tardiness increases.

Example 2: Faculty do certain chores spontaneously because they are good departmental citizens. Some do lots, others are slackers, but things get done. Then an administrator pronounces that this voluntary act is now required X times a year. The slackers that had been doing less than X now do the required X. But those who used to do more than X shift to X as well.

These paradoxical effects occur because introducing punishment re-categorizes the behavior…It turns out that doing the right thing voluntarily is very different from doing it to avoid punishment.

Why are Working-Class Men Falling Behind?
After many years of studying American society, Michael Jindra, visiting research scholar in theCenter for the Study of Religion and Society has concluded that “American lifestyles are increasingly diverging between ‘hyper-achievers’ trained early on to succeed, and those often labeled ‘slackers’ whose lives revolve around entertainments of various sorts.

  • A disproportionate percentage of “slackers” are working class men who are working less and earning less.
  • These men are increasingly disconnected from families and from society as a whole.
  • Early on they fall behind females in school and never catch up.
  • One explanation for their instability is that so many were raised with single parents and are unlikely to reap the gains of a lasting marriage themselves.
  • Video games create a need for stimulation, crowd out reading, and lessen boys’ focus in school and other activities.
  • Rates of ADHD have skyrocketed with video-game overstimulation playing a role.
  • These patterns can also lead later in life to heavy television viewing, often of sports and heavy online activity, such as viewing porn.

Jindra concludes: “All of these things mentioned above—early reliance on stimulating entertainment, lower educational attainment, disconnection from families and role models, and the attractions of different, “edgy” subcultures—contribute to a widening gulf between those more connected to family, work, and society, and those without these commitments.”

Something that Jindra didn’t mention was the way in which manual labor has been so ridiculed and relegated by the incessant desire to get everyone to college. The Government, the media, and our school teachers have made college the be-all and end-all of life. Little wonder that many young men who have immense practical or small-business gifts are demoralized and discouraged by the present school system that devalues their unique talents and rewards only academic ability.