Hope For a “Call Me, Maybe” Generation?

If there isn’t a teenager in your life or close social circle, you may be mercifully unaware of the mega-popularity of Canadian teen, Carly Rae Jepsen’s , pop hit, “Call Me, Maybe,” made popular after Justin Beiber tweeted about it and other groups began to produce every knock-off possible.

It doesn’t matter that the lyrics stick in your head and the repetition can drive you insane. What matters is that the teens in the video are actually considering talking on the telephone as a way of communicating. Why is this shocking? Consider that texting, updating one’s status on Facebook and tweeting have become the default communication channels for most teens (of course, it doesn’t stop when one turns 20, either; just look around you).

Sherry Turkle, MIT professor of the social studies of science, in her excellent TED Talk video (March, 2012) and book, Alone Together – Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (Basic Books, 2010), points out that technology is changing our lives and shaping our modern relationships. She reports that teenagers send and receive six to eight thousand texts a month and spend hours a day on Facebook, “friending” strangers instead of making real friends. She quotes a high school sophomore who expressed distaste for using the telephone saying that telephone calls mean you have to have a conversation and conversations are “almost always too prying, it takes too long and it is impossible to say good-bye.” An eighteen year old tells Turkle that someday, he would like to learn to have a conversation, but not now. Now, he can just ask Siri his questions and even get her to tell him a joke—who needs to call people to have an actual conversation?

But, a recent study of more than 1000 young people between the ages of 13 and 17 by the child advocacy group Common Sense Media, contains hints of “Facebook Fatigue.” (Washington Post) Here are the statistics: 41% of the teens surveyed said they were “addicted to cell phones; 43% would like to unplug sometimes and a surprising 36% would like to go back to a time before Facebook was invented.” Furthermore, half of all respondents said that real-life communication is the most fun and fruitful for their relationships.

Maybe, just maybe, teens will take the advice of Carly Rae rather than depending upon Siri and “Call Me…Maybe it will be the beginning of critical interpersonal skills building and later in life the foundation for career networking.

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