This topic came up the other day on Facebook. Annie posted this, and in the run of comments, I said something like the following (edited):
Blogs have become a thing of the past for several reasons. I was made aware of one last year. I teach at a choir school, and I mentioned to the kids that I was thinking of starting a Music Appreciation blog for the school. My class broke out laughing and said in unison, “a BLOG?” launching into what sounded like a version of the “Internet Commenter Funeral” before I shut them up. One of them could even quote verbatim a blog insult he thought we both might know. At least I THINK he was. I shushed him up too quickly to have heard enough to confirm my worst suspicion. Anyway, that’s the image middle-schoolers (and my own high-school-age sons) have of blogs: Places where idiot adults go to insult one another. As one of my sons said, “Daaad, everybody hangs out on Facebook with their friends. If you really feel the need to discuss issues of the day with people you’d probably edge away from if you saw them in a crowd, there always are forums. Blogs are for old people.”
Annie then came back with two typically perceptive updates:
Young people always have to differentiate themselves from “old people,” but we always come crawling after them. Now that we too have infested Facebook, where will they go next?
The other thing about blogs is that that ecosystem has reached climax forest stage, where the big trees (such as Althouse, and you can name others) get the light before it can reach the forest floor, and seedlings languish and die unless they can get birds (tweet tweet) to carry them to new, open space.
But the thing that really got my attention was this link (via Tom Strong), wherein Josh Miller (who is, from what I can tell, a fairly recent Princeton grad) reports on his tenth-grade sister, home in California:
Something from it:
For me, Twitter is predominantly a link discovery service — admittedly, that is a simplified view, but it’s helpful for these purposes — so I followed-up on her Twitter comments by asking where she discovers links. “What do you mean?” She couldn’t even understand what I was asking. I rephrased the question: “What links do you read? What sites do they come from? What blogs?”
“I don’t read links. I don’t read blogs. I don’t know. You mean like funny videos on Facebook? Sometimes people post funny links there. But I’m not really interested in anything yet, like you are.”
She didn’t know what BuzzFeed was, and doesn’t visit fashion blogs! (Of course, the older brother thinks that would be a given.) I was floored.
Now, despite being a bona fide old person, I have a tenth-grade son, and I can categorically say he does not have the same tastes as Josh Miller’s sister. He’s an East Coast kid, and his own bona fides are as a prep school student. His internet time is limited by his need to get the grades to get a scholarship to one of the Ivies, or maybe NYU, if the musical theater thing works out for him. But he does have at least a little time to look at funny videos, link them occasionally, and be interested in things. Josh Miller’s sister is distinctly a Santa Monica kid and a flat-affect hipster by my son’s more earnest St. Grottlesex standards. Nevertheless, their online lives are similar enough to point to a future that does not resemble the past of us Old People, even those of us tech savvy enough to have spent too much of it on the internet looking for something it could not deliver. Seems the internet and the neurons of 16-year-olds are finally moving toward a future they were both meant for.