At 10:17 this morning a wonderfully conscientious student emailed me that she was caught in traffic and that she would be late for my 10:30 Business and Future of Journalism class.
The young woman knows I abhor excuses but the next email shocked me. She sent me a picture of the traffic jam she was fighting!
I laughed myself to the floor, gave her several points for ingenuity and commenced class. A few minutes later we were talking animatedly about social media and how it is changing our life.
We talked about the immediacy of information, the self-serving nature of things like Twitter and Facebook. As one student opined, “we love the fact that we can talk and somebody listens!”
One student even talked about her father who is convinced all this “social media stuff” is a fad and young people are shooting themselves in the foot with it.
We used the student’s father as a spark to ignite lot of interesting discussion but then the conversation suddenly shifted.
One student talked about how “lying is so easy on Twitter and Facebook, and a lot harder in person.“ Another student talked about his early teen sister and her friends. He thinks they’ve lost the ability to speak to each other in person and he believes some basic values are being lost.
That’s when I rose to the father’s defense and said the student’s father is not hopelessly out of touch. I said he’s just observing such a torrent of change he is really worried that people don’t understand what’s being lost.
I left that class and called my wife, Jean, who still smells a news story at 20 paces despite being out of the business for 35 years. She told me that before noon today she had received two random “robo” calls hoping she needed guidance on dealing with the $25 billion mortgage banking settlement.
They were probably scammer calls but they came just a few hours after the bloomin” settlement was signed! That puts a whole new light on immediacy. Even the crooks act fast these days!
I laugh heartily when a politician or someone I over hear at a coffee shop longs for the 50’s and 60”s.
As one of of my students so aptly said during our discussion this morning, “We’re not going back!” As they say ‘the genie is out of the bottle,’ and this fast-paced, immediate reaction world is here to stay.
That immediacy, along with the overwhelming ubiquity of news, raises some profound questions about surviving and thriving an ever-changing world with our values intact.
And, as I told my students today the real burden is not going to fall on me. I have only a relatively few years left on this earth of ours. That burden—and privilege–will be theirs.
So, those big heavy thoughts hung over me much of the day until I happened upon this wonderful little piece on 5-year-old love by Diana K. Sugg.
It’s a lovely story about her five-year-old boy falling in love.
Sugg treats the subject seriously and with a reporter’s respect. Even as she illuminates, she warms the reader’s heart.
Call me an old softie, a Pollyanna or whatever you like, but I still believe great story-telling and enlightening journalism will always enrich our lives as we grapple with the turbulence of our changing times.