The 160-character Generation (Society’s Slideshow)

Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y. These are the names for generations that make up a majority of our population. Our current generation, featuring people born from 2001 to present is named Generation Z, or the New Silent Generation.

I believe that the Population Reference Bureau ought to group the teenagers from Generation Y and children from this generation into a new group called the 160-Character Generation.

These people have never known a world without Twitter, Facebook, the internet, computers, and cell phones. Each of these modes of communication have one thing in common: They all limit your thought process to 160 characters.

Cell phone companies found this was the amount of information that could fit into a text message and be delivered relatively quickly. Facebook and Twitter use this limit to regulate the amount of information they have to maintain and store on their servers. Additionally it serves to speed up communication on the internet. The smaller your file, the faster it transfers.

Sadly, this limitation has found its way into the educational system. Students now regard heady research as the first page of results from Google. They lose focus when they are presented with any amount of material that exceeds 160 characters. Similarly, their idea of a functional and informational essay is (you guessed it) 160 characters.

Students in school now are so used to abbreviating communication in text message that text speak finds its way into term papers and short answer questions. College professors are finding that more and more students are citing Wikipedia, Google, and Altavista as the three main sources for expository papers. I can only imagine how their eyes must bug out of their head reading these things and wondering why K-12 schools have failed them.

I hereby posit that K-12 schools share some of the blame, but should not be shouldered with the whole load. Many teachers attempt to combat text speak, sentence fragments, and generally poor grammar with requirements in assignments that specifically forbid this behavior. Success in this field is by and large limited.

Parents are becoming less and less able to regulate their children’s time in front of the television or staring at a computer screen due to the stagnation of wages and increase in cost of living. It is no longer possible for a family to survive on a single income. You can blame whoever you want for that, but I blame NAFTA and current efforts by radical conservatives.

Libraries along with brick and mortar book stores are disappearing faster than manufacturing jobs due to this trend as well. Why would these people want their tax dollars to finance something they never use (a library) or even leave the house to find a good book at a place like Borders, which recently went out of business.

The disappearance of these resources also serves to limit teachers’ resources for places to send students outside of school to complete semester-long research papers or projects. They will be forced to use more and more precious class time to shuttle kids from the classroom to the school library in order to finish required assignments.

Ladies and gentlemen, whether or not we like it, this is the future of our country. These people will soon be able to drive, vote, run for political office, manage stores, and become CEOs of multinational companies. (Shudder to think how that’s going to turn out)

Considering all of this, it’s no wonder the Tea Party and other tech-savvy politicians can maintain their current office. All they have to do to get votes out of this generation is make ludicrous promises in 160 characters or less.

Promises such as: “We’re going to give you better services and lower taxes. We’ll cut government spending and pass the savings on to you.”

Maybe they’ll say: “We will refuse to compromise on our beliefs. We will deliver on our promise to never raise taxes as long as we are in office.”

These promises never mention the fact that in order to pull it off, such “entitlement programs” like Social Security, Medicare and unemployment will have to disappear. They never mention that permitting corporations to tear up collective bargaining agreements that guarantee a decent standard of living as well as medical and retirement benefits will ensure that none of these things will be a reality in their forseeable future.

Unfortunately, the option to unplug is long in the past. There is no easy solution to this educational and societal conundrum. But taking baby steps is better than pointing fingers and passing the buck.

Software programmers can design programs parents can install on their computers as administrators of the system that will enforce set limits on computer time. They can also prevent unmonitored usage of the computer with password protection. Also, installing filtering programs similar to what are used in school to prevent Facebook and Twitter usage could be implemented at home.

The bottom line is, unless we take clear and definite steps toward forcing our current generation away from overusing technology and implementing some analog aspects of communication, future history books will have chapters and sections that are 160 characters or less.



  1. Tom Washington

    Is there anything you don’t blame on conservatives? Has a democrat/liberal ever done anything wrong? That’s a serious question.

    • Andrew Johnson (D) was impeached for trying to fire the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, which was a violation of the newly passed Tenure of office Act of 1867. This act was passed over Johnson’s veto, and he still insisted on attempting to remove Stanton from his position. Senate missed the necessary 2/3 majority by 1 vote, thus leaving Johnson to serve the rest of his term.

      He also pardoned a great many of the Confederate generals toward the end of his term after reversing his stance which had formerly aligned with the Radical Republicans. Once president after Lincoln’s death, he favored a lenient approach to admitting Confederate states back into the Union.

      America got back together, but Ulysses S.Grant(R) ended up being the next president.

      Bill Clinton(D) was impeached on charges of perjury during questioning about the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Evidence showed that he did in fact “have sexual relations with that woman.” He was aquitted as well, but censured for his behavior.

      I could talk about Kwame Kilpatrick (D), but we’d be here all day.

      Maybe John McTernan, you, I, and any number of people can afford Intenet access in our own homes or in or cell phone plans. To have internet, computers, or cell phones in your home you need a certain amount of money. There are people out there who now cannot afford this technology due to varying circumstances and their only access is public use.

      Due to that, they cannot compete in this technologically-driven world. If we take away their ability to better themselves or keep up on current times, they may be left behind.

      Not only will they be left behind, but their children will be left behind. They may not be able to do that out of class research they need to get the grade they desire simply by vitrue of their station in life.

      That child will not get the grade desired and get discouraged about failure because the teacher told the class to “use the library or the internet at home” to look up any number of subjects an academic paper may be written on. This child’s family has access to neither because the community voted no on the library proposal, and has no money for internet access.

      This can perpetuate through generations because 1% of the population controls 95% of its wealth. I may be a bit liberal, but numbers don’t lie. They can be interpreted many ways, but interpretation seems fairly clear here.

      “So long as there are me, there will be wars,” said Albert Einstein. A great many wars have been fought due to some inequality or another. Maybe we would have a few less if the balance was tipped a bit.

      No one wants to give up a piece of thier pie. But if we give up just a small sliver, soon all of those slivers will add up to pies people can claim for themelves in our capitalist society.

      Free rides are out. We can make a society of much happier people if we truly made our country a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

      Oops. I forgot Mitt Romney thinks that corporations are people.

      • Thomas Washington

        1867??? You had to go back that far to think of something? And Bill Clinton getting a hummer in the oval office?

        That just goes to show me that you have a hard time accepting the fact that Democrats/Liberals have done anything wrong with policy over the past 100 years.

        I thought liberals were supposed to be open-minded, yet they are usually the most rigid, closed minded people I meet. Some even to the point of not speaking to me because I am conservative. And I’m not even that conservative…I’m more libertarian.

        Here’s another question for you….Was Coleman Young good for Detroit?

        Detroit has been run by Democrats for decades. Is it the evil republicans that have destroyed the city?

        • Umm, two of my examples were from the last 100 years, and both of those from the last two decades.

          Impeachment should not be trivialized. It takes a majority vote of the House of Representatives to pass articles of impeachment, and a 2/3 vote in the Senate to convict.

          A hummer in the White House definitely doesn’t fit in the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the Constitution puts it.

          What about Coleman Young? I don’t see him getting investigated by the FBI. The jury’s still out on his policies in Detroit.

          As for the rest of the Kilpatrick regime, they either got their legal due, or are under investigation in one of the worst examples of political graft, racketeering, and a perfect example of the absolute corruption that came with what Kilpatrick thought was absolute power.

          The problem is and always will be corrupt and greedy individuals cutting sweetheart deals, robbing the taxpayers to line their own pockets, and cutting important government services to do it.

          Stories like these make taxpayers think “What in the heck am I paying for anyway?” It makes me think it, too. It also makes me remember that the best way to kill a snake is to cut its head off.

          I am ecstatic that everyone in the Kilpatrick regime is getting their due process and getting burned in the process. I am also ecstatic that the FBI has chosen to investigate the Wayne County Executive Department via a series of subpoenas.

          Closed-mindedness to me is refusing to entertain other points of view. It is rejecting a tax proposal based on principle rather than the issues. It is closing a library to save a few bucks while the indigent of society lose another resource they have to better themselves. Moreover, refusal to compromise is closed-minded as well.

          So, by this definition of closed-mindedness, you fit the bill perfectly.

  2. Fight fight! Ya! Tom i am officially offering you the conservative writer role so u and dave can battle all wk.mtoo bad u r too busy.

  3. Tom Washington

    Article from the UK. ….

    The Liberal Whingers Are Wrong – We Should Shut Our Libraries
    2011-10-20 19:30:09.222 GMT

    John McTernan
    Oct. 20 (Telegraph) — Middle-class liberals are fighting to
    keep libraries open out of condescension for the less fortunate
    and guilt that they, like everyone else, no longer use them.
    When did you last go to a public library? No, really, when?
    It’s probably a good few years – and if so, you’re not alone.
    From one year to the next, nearly 60 per cent of us don’t go to
    libraries at all. In fact, fewer than one in five adults in
    England go more than once a month.
    The news that councils are closing libraries has prompted
    sickly and sentimental pleas from all corners of the nation: a
    long and star-studded campaign to stop Brent Council closing six
    of them is now set to go to the Court of Appeal. No less a figure
    than Brian Blessed recently described such closures as the “act
    of Philistines… atavistic nonsense… the nemesis of our country”.
    In one sense, this is a phenomenon familiar to anyone who’s
    ever had to cut public services: people will fight to the death
    to protect things they never use. But there’s something bigger
    going on here. This is a fight by middle-class liberals to keep
    libraries open not for themselves, but for the less fortunate.
    This is partly out of condescension, and partly guilt – because
    the protesters don’t use libraries either, and feel they may have
    precipitated the closures by their neglect.
    What this debate needs is some honesty. Yes, public
    libraries have been of huge benefit in helping us educate
    ourselves over the past 150 years. It’s an honourable tradition –
    but it’s over. Their defence depends on a deficit model, the
    argument that they fill a unique gap. But that’s simply no longer
    Take reference services, once the core of the public
    library’s educational role. Access to information has been
    transformed by the internet. Google a subject and you can become
    ridiculously well-informed ridiculously quickly. Engrossing
    lectures from the planet’s best minds are freely available on
    university websites, from the TED conference series, or on BBC
    iPlayer. Channels such as BBC Four or Sky Arts provide a wide
    range of high-quality documentaries across a multitude of
    subjects. We live in an information-rich society – so we should
    celebrate its availability, not yearn for a time when you had to
    go to the central library for it.
    In recent years, libraries sought to reinvent themselves as
    information hubs. Hundreds of millions were spent to provide them
    with computers. What happened? Technology advanced, and soon the
    library computers were too old and too slow. That led to a demand
    for more investment. But why? Fast, cheap computing had spread to
    most homes, and to our whizzy new mobile phones. Where on earth
    is the gap that libraries are meant to plug?
    Then there’s the argument that your local library is the
    gateway to a national and international network of literature and
    education. So it is – but so is your computer. Time was, to get
    hold of a particular book, you would have to go to a library and
    ask. Now, with Abebooks and Alibris, almost all the second-hand
    bookshops in the world are available to search. This is as true
    for new books as for old: more than 130,000 titles were published
    in the UK in 2009, and 330 million new books were purchased.
    The final defence of the public library is that it is a
    place for the pupil who has nowhere else to study and revise.
    Once again, this is the 21st century. Virtually every kid has a
    desk at home – even if it often has a games console on it. And
    libraries at secondary schools are, in my experience, uniformly
    good and open places for young people.
    Few institutions are timeless. Most reflect the period when
    they were created, and have to change as society changes if they
    are to survive. The crisis in our libraries is not because of the
    “cuts” – it’s because they are needed less.
    John McTernan has an MA in librarianship from Sheffield
    University and worked in libraries from 1984 to 1994

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