1982: 4.6 billion people; 0 mobile phones. 2013: 7 billion people; 6 billion mobile subscriptions –
[most of the following from ch 6 of Chris Mercogliano‘s In Defense of Childhood – the importance of solitude]
1400’s – renaissance
Postman’s reasoning proceeds thus: childhood is a social construct, not a biological given. Childhood as a distinct life phase generally didn’t exist in Western culture prior to the Renaissance because, as Postman sees it, everyone shared the same information environment, and, since information was transmitted orally, young people had the same access to information that adults had. Because families lived in very small spaces, everyone also shared the same intimate social environment, so young people were exposed to all aspects of adult experience from the very beginning.
1450 – gutenburg press
But this state of affairs changed radically with the 15th century invention of the printing press. The rapid spread of books created a knowledge gap between adults and children, because now access to adult information required the ability to read. “Literate Man left behind the children,” Postman wrote, and from that point on, children were forced to acquire their reading skills in a drawn-out, step-by-step manner in schools created expressly for that purpose.
So it came to pass that childhood gradually evolved into a prolonged period of intellectual development for which the dominant form of information was written and controlled by the adults, who made it available to children through a sequential schooling process. Only a fully literate individual, in other words, had access to the secrets of the adult world, which meant that children, for the most part, did not. That was what made them children. And as childhood and adulthood became increasingly differentiated, children could no longer share the language, learning, appetites, and social life of adults, as they had previously been able to do when knowledge was passed down orally.
Not until the invention of the telegraph, which made communication instantaneous, did adults begin to lose control over the flow of information.
Television sped up the change exponentially, because it not only transmis information instantly but does so through visual images, thereby reducing the power and importance of the written world.
And of course the Internet, which did not exist when Postman was working out his theory, now provides children with almost infinite access to adult knowledge entirely on their own terms.
As a result, writes Postman, the distinction between childhood and adulthood today is like a movie playing in reverse. (Kelly – tech wants to help us get back to us)
TV has collapsed the information hierarchy because it requires no skills and does not segregate its audience.
following is the part i don’t get, or i think could be different..
The merging of childhood and adulthood is inevitable when a group that is socially (as opposed to biologically) constructed is largely defined by the exclusivity of the information it possesses. If everyone knew what lawyers know in other words, there would be no lawyers.
[and i’m thinking – cool – because lawyers and litigations are perpetuating a world of mistrust.. no?]
Then he writes:
The changes I have been observing in the children I have worked with over the last 35 years confirm Postman’s theory Far too many kids are thinking and acting on adult like thoughts before they are ready. The violence and pornography spewed out by electronic media are robbing them of that irreplaceable period in their lives that our culture has set aside for exploration and innocent discovery, for child’s play, and for testing and retesting their personal place in the scheme of things before they have to begin making irreversible choices. To quote Postman, “It means — to use a metaphor of my own — that in having access to the previously hidden fruit of adult information, they are expelled from the garden of childhood.”
[and i’m not seeing it that way, i’m seeing it as – we’ve already expelled them from that garden with our control. we are the ones that made tv what it is. made kids days what they are. i’m thinking more along the lines – that i love – that the playing field is level – so perhaps even all the ugliness we see in tv/media – will be changed. perhaps the worst case scenarios that we bring up so much – that we keep calling the norm (perhaps the halloween scare – ish) – isn’t really a norm, or at least – isn’t really natural/real. perhaps it’s what happens in situations where we aren’t letting kids/adults free. tv becomes an addiction, because it’s the only equitable escape from a much graver addiction. our addiction to control – to controlling things. if you can zoom out, look past, all the horrific things media is sharing and kids seem to be taking in – to the why – perhaps we see a different picture, a different youth. perhaps they/we are just looking for connection. imagine if nothing was controlled, and we empowered each inner wildness, to be. perhaps tech/media would then become merely a connective tool that kelly/lee..et al predict/hope for.]
perhaps we’ll level out faster if we jump into a so called..
perhaps just jumping in will do it..
I believe that the big transition in social life came not with the gramophone, but when someone had the great but unjust idea to invent the alphabet, thus allowing us to store information and reproduce it. It accelerated further when another inventor had the even more dangerous and iniquitous notion of starting a printing press, thus promoting texts across boundaries and triggering what ultimately grew into a winner-take-all ecology. – Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swan