Monday, May 27, 2013

The Chattiest Generation has Little to Offer in Public Discourse

Cyril Skosana

We are a generation that chats a lot, but we also lack the knowledge our ancestors had. We live in a time where there is so much technology that provides us with information. Our ancestors didn’t have such luxuries. One need not leave their bed in order to access a library as some have many journals and ebooks available on the internet, the internet that moves with us.

Our elders also hold information that we desperately need, but in our belief that we know more – we tend to not want to breastfeed this information from them. If we feel we have breastfed from them, then maybe we have lost what our forefathers had passed to us.
What our ancestors had that we seem to lack is knowledge. We are a generation that lacks knowledge. We live in an era which is so advanced that it has surpassed our average intelligence. Our forefathers had perfected skills of communication –listening, decoding, encoding and giving a response– which is what we seem to lack. You’d hear of information that was shared around the fire. That information led to medicinal breakthroughs on this African continent as medicine isn’t a new invention that came from the west. 

Those before us always sought information to feed their brains. Community news was well known as women would meet as they did laundry on river banks, as young men would be herding goats and cattle together and when the time of communal taps came – that became a new meeting place and new method of information sharing. Now we sit in our homes and with the click of the button get on Twitter, Facebook and blogs and think that we now know more than other people and we know more that our communities. Sometimes in 140 characters, we feel we have received knowledge. Information isn’t quite the same as knowledge.

Our ancestors were abreast with affairs that involved their people and surroundings. They weren’t quite concerned with stories about those in faraway places, people they would never meet. The young ones shared information with their peers, because they knew that, “knowledge is power.”

We are a different generation. We are a generation that speaks at once while no one is listening. We all have opinions, we share them on social networks and we don’t want to be told and we don’t want to listen, all we want is to tell. What’s important is that we are receiving friend requests and are getting followers, it doesn’t matter whether we are receiving or sharing anything of relevance with those people, what’s important is that we have shared the information and they have followed. It’s like a celebrity obsessed culture as all that matters is that we can feel like stars with “followers” who could be called fans in tweleb circles.

We are the most fortunate generation; we are just too blind to see it. We have access to what our forefathers didn’t have, and if used well, we could find ourselves swimming in a pool of knowledge that can change our lives for better.

This is a digital era. A period of possibilities. We have information in abundance in front of us. All we have to do is to have desire in us for growth, ask and read as much as possible.
Any normal child, at about the age of three four, reaches the asking period, that is the time when the brain quickly develops and in need for growth. We have reached that stage as human beings; unfortunately it seems to have faded as we grew older.

This has led to a “chattiest generation” that we see today. What is bizarre about this generation is that we often don’t know what we are talking about. The digital world has opened public space for us to converse, but we are failing to communicate. We make noise that falls on deaf ears. 

Due to not seeking right information, we fail to engage in thrilling conversations; hence we digress to vain discussions. On digital spaces that we could use to change the world, we chat about TV dramas, celebrities, and the most incredible party we’ve just attended at the weekend. 

We have means of sharing information and knowledge, but due to that we have lost what our forefathers tried to instil in us, we have deviated to conversations that offers us nothing, yet actually wasting our time on social networks discussing meals and types of alcoholic beverages.

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