I was recently asked to comment for a media article about how I would define this decade. Originally the question involved technology advances -- the things we have and use now that we didn't in the 1990's. As I was looking at the list, it dawned on me...those things that have really exploded this decade are things that promote and market...US.
From what we’ve seen in the past several years, I suggest we call this the “All about Me Decade.” Whether it’s expressed via MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, reality TV or any other number of outlets, our society seems to have spent increasing amounts of time being self-absorbed and self-focused, and believe everyone else will care, too. Incidents such as Kanye West’s outburst upstaging Taylor Swift and even Tiger Woods’ dalliances shows that too many people seem to think that “if it’s all right with me, it’s all right.”
We take pictures on our ever-present cell phones, not thinking about whether doing so is appropriate or potentially intrusive to others, and can't wait to post them on the Internet for all to see. We post "info" about our latest meal or even, heaven forbid, bathroom break, and expect people to follow with rapt attention. We strive to see how many "friends" we can collect on online social networks, believing somehow that this validates our importance. We're linked-in, followed, tweeted, IM'd, tagged and bleeped on all ends, at all times, with no relief in sight.
Is it all so terribly important or necessary? Do people really CARE so much about so much trivia? Our personal and professional relationships are suffering because we spend so much time "relating" to each other via a sterile, unemotional keyboard. I say these practices can actually be harmful. I, for one, have learned things about one of my friends I connected with via Facebook that really have me thinking twice about her character and personality -- now that I've seen a certain side of her via the Internet, I'm not sure I'd want a closer relationship in "Real Life."
Our techno tools have also led to a decrease in basic decency and civility. We talk over each other on TV and real life -- he with the loudest voice and most persistence wins. It's nothing to 'dis someone via an IM. Or dump a boy/girlfriend through a text message. We gossip online, cyberstalk and bully anonymously, sharing it all at the click of a mouse for all the world to participate. Heck, we even even join in when a suicide is broadcast on the Net, encouraging the victim to hurry up and get it over with. And, if we're caught...well, it can all be explained away with a giggled "Opps, my bad."
I know this hasn't been all the decade has had to offer, but it's some of the lowest of the low, certainly. It's an indication of how little we think of others, but how much we think of ourselves.
Since it's New Year's I suggest we make a resolution: Let's work together to build a new legacy for the next decade. I suggest if 2000-2009 was the "Decade about Me" let's make 2010-2019 "The Decade about WE." Let's spend more time thinking of others than of ourselves. Let's direct more energy toward bettering the lives of others than gathering more stuff for us. Let's teach our children the value of community and relationships and show them that kindness is valuable and priceless.
If we do so, just imagine what the recap for the next generation could look like. I'd drink a toast to that. Care to join me?
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