Nearly a year ago I quit my job at a real estate firm to focus full time on my final year of college. Up to that point, I had not lived on a college campus and lived the “college lifestyle”. I worked 50 hours a week and took mostly night and online courses at UCF. This was how my first three years of college went. Moving to a community next to UCF was a huge culture shock, not because I’d never seen a party before, but because I realized how different I was than the average college student. I was a product of my own environment, forced to grow up too early; during my days in real estate I woke up at 5;30 a.m., went jogging, read the NY times, went to work, watched CNBC during lunch, back to work, then to school, then the library and than back home to bed around 1:00am where I’d put myself to sleep by listening to an eCorner lecture at Stanford.
When I started meeting kids who were in college but did not have any exposure to the “real world” yet, I was shocked at their behavior above all. Having spent the past three years basically alone, it was an awakening similar to “So, this is what other humans are doing my age.” as if i had been on a deserted island for three years. I must say it was a disturbing observation. I noticed that unlike me, who used the web to be productive and gain knowledge, the majority of people my age use technology to surf the web for ridiculous YouTube Videos, post irrelevant daily activities on Facebook, play video games until their eye’s went red and look at pornography. Now I’m not saying I’ve never watched a YouTube video or posted on Facebook but I noticed a major cultural problem; no one was telling my generation about the “good” tools the Internet has to offer, hidden gems like iTunes U, eCorner, Google Scholar, Productiv, Pulse, Lift.do, w3schools, codecademy, etc.
I encountered dozens of students who had no idea that they could take classes at Stanford or Harvard on anything they could possibly think of, for free, only they wouldn’t take exams or get any credit. iTunes U was and is the most underestimated tool on the web by far. At first, I thought, it’s not big deal, these are just kids, this is what they’re supposed to be doing in college, just messing around, right? Wrong. The cultural shift had more consequences than I originally anticipated. Their “misguided use of technology” had led to what I like to call our generation, “The Socially Inept”. Because these kids had grown up on the web, they didn’t know how to interact with humans face to face, leading to widespread ‘Aspergers Syndrome’, or social retardation. It was horrifying and I saw and still see it first hand, a majority of my generation has no idea how to operate properly in a world outside of the confines of their bedroom.
Because of their “misguided use” they had also completely missed out on what America is. None of these kids have heard of Frank Sinatra, Alfred Hitchcock, The Rolling Stones, Truman Capote or seen classic films and read classic novels, most of them had never even read a novel if it wasn’t mandated by an academic institution. It was a major shock. In my previous blog I stated that opinion pieces should offer a solution but the solution is already there as I mentioned previously in my post. It’s just going to take academic institutions realizing this cultural phenomenon and guiding students in the right direction as far as the use of technology is concerned. It’s not a full proof solution, I could stand in front of a class and show them all the web has to offer and many will still go home, play video games, then watch YouTube videos for three hours, then watch Dexter for six hours, some porn and go to sleep; but some will listen, some will see the opportunity and it is those individuals that are our fighting chance for the future.