That's a problem

(Funny, because I know this is the wrong genre for Monkey Socks and far too long.)

If you let your environment take control, you begin paying a lot less attention. That’s the difficulty of integration; ignorance allows you to lose track of your destination. Microsoft Word 2007 was a major change for me but I never bothered to study it. Who needs instruction manuals? I worked it out mostly, but Word 2007 is far more complex than Word 2003 – it needs to take into account compatibilities with older versions. You can convert documents into XPS and PDF. The Equation Editor has had a facelift – is far prettier – but won't allow 100% customization; in Word 2003, you could specify fonts regardless of notational convention. Now, Cambria Math is requisite.

Word 2007 follows a new organisational system. It is ironically the programmer’s role to think logically about users’ intuition (however oxymoronic);

Would they rather a ribbon or a drop-down menu? We invented the drop-down menu!

We sadly live in a society that expects everything at the push of a button and skim-reads anything longer than 200 words. Each of us is playing catch-up with technology.

Hey, I can use tabs! Oh crap, which tab is which? Let's try add-ons! Now ColourfulTabs is updating and so is PDFDownload. DownItAll's not compatible with Firefox 3.0! Let's make an add-on!

We're forever creating and changing ourselves to fit in. My Maths lecturer nearly broke down discussing Course Evaluation Forms last month.

'Guys, guys, it's great that you tell us what you find wrong with the course,' she said, 'but could you please tell us what we're doing right?

‘We can't go on changing everything because then we don't know what we're doing right – and then we're back at square one!'

Call me an old fart, but the problem with society is that kids are too 'smart'. They know what's happening but don't care enough to do anything about it. We know what we're 'wrong'. We know that swearing is disrespectful. We know that sitting all day in front of our computers isn't healthy. We know that alcohol is bad for us. We know that cigarettes cause lung cancer and that music is more influential than it should be. We know that 'the media' is full of ‘shit’ (yet love being spoon-fed) and we know that magazines are a form of expensive advertising. We poke fun at the Courier Mail and yet read Crikey! (which is more outlandish and biasing in its language choices) religiously. We know that not having boyfriends/girlfriends won't kill us and argue that in other societies twelve-year-olds are getting married; we also say 'it's just for fun' and are aware that divorce rates are incredibly high in Australia. We also know that education is incredibly important but don't know how to prioritise for the future; emotions override repeatedly.

We live in a world of now, now, now, because we have everything and obsess over customization. We have families that look after us and present-day society is babied by adults, despite there being more elderly people in nursing homes than children – and that’s just Australia. The United Nations introduced the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. In 1977 George Benson released Greatest Love of All, proclaiming that 'children are the future' and no longer 'seen and not heard'. Kids (in Western Society) don't desire to grow up; they fear aging and becoming wrinkly. Who needs responsibility? In the end, people only care about themselves and over-engineer everything. What we consider ‘difficult’ today, like learning how to operate Word 2007, will be required reading for Year 2 students of 2009 while they learn about environmental sustainability.

In the end, we can argue ourselves into and out of everything – we’ve heard these arguments before; we’re like parrots, talking without thinking – but do not know how to look after ourselves. Psychology students understand that ‘remaining on red alert takes its toll, making the organism especially vulnerable to illness; overworked university students in the resistance stage, for example, are susceptible to influenza, mononucleosis, and whatever garden-variety colds happen to make the rounds’ (Westen et al 2006) – but we push ourselves regardless of common sense because demand is plentiful.

Maybe it’s just us. Bill Bryson in Down Under says ‘there is nothing in Australian life more complicated and bewildering to the outsider than its politics. ... [E]ven when you are there and dutifully trying to follow it, you find yourself mired in a density of argument, a complexity of fine points, a skein of tangled relationships and enmities, that thwarts all understanding. Give Australians an issue and they will argue it so passionately and in such detail, from so many angles, with the introduction of so many loosely connected side issues, that it soon becomes impenetrable to the outsider.’ (2000, p. 135 - 148)

‘I don’t mean to suggest that these are not important issues, of course. But it is an exhausting process to witness, and you do rather come away with two interlinked impressions – that Australians love to argue for argument’s sake and that basically they would rather leave everything as it is.’ (Ibid, p. 148)

In that case, it’s not just the kids; we're a generation – a country, even – critical of critical thinking.

Hell, maybe it's just me.

The sad thing is, "being critical of society makes it so much harder to participate in it." (M Faith, 2008)

Tell me about it.

List of References:
  1. Bryson, B 2001, Down Under, Black Swan, London.
  2. Westen, D., Burton, L., & Kowalski, R. (2006). Psychology: Australian and New Zealand edition. Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd


Sarshake said...

Jeez Janelle that really got me thinking. Nice work. Sure you shouldn't be doing an English major? :P that was opinionated yet funny and down to earth. Nice!

Queen Anne said...

Susmariausip [sp?]!

Janelle said...

LOL! I have always wondered how to spell that.

Tiffany said...

You sound like me in my essays lol.
Globalisation, everything's from everywhere, everything is commodified, multi-tasking, media influence the way we think, we're no longer individuals, but a collective state, we think we are but in reality, we're all the same.

Queen Anne said...

Your parents say it too? I always thought it was something.. a swear my mum may have made up... She said it came from "Jesus, mary and Joseph" ... I assume run the words along in a string at Tagalog pace and you've got yourself a new swear... dunno.

Sorry to deviate from topic.


Janelle said...

It's k. I deviated. I'm full of crap that doesn't even make sense and comes completely unsubstantiated.

Yeah that's basically what it is. A lot of their 'swears' are really sighs of exasperation that sound angry and often express disbelief. Ironically, they do the whole 'I believe in God' thing and yet claim they don't take God's name in vain.

Then again, mum explained to me that 'ay nako' actually doesn't refer to god, but means 'Aye, me'. Almost Shakespearean and melodramatic. :P. (Not really. I'm full of shit.)