The New York Times will not stop writing about young people and their collective relationship with technology. This week, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” argues that kids are simply different these days because of services like YouTube and Facebook, and “we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.” The article about internet distractions, which you can read online in its entirety, is 4,079 words long. Here are the best 258.
Because this is the same article you’ve read time and time again, it is probably more enjoyable as a set of ten context-free pull-quotes in chronological order as they appear in the newspaper. You’ll get the idea:
1. On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”
2. Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters.
3. Here, as elsewhere, it is not uncommon for students to send hundreds of text messages a day or spend hours playing video games, and virtually everyone is on Facebook.
4. He pushed first period back an hour, to 9 a.m., because students were showing up bleary-eyed, at least in part because they were up late on their computers.
5. Last semester, his grade point average was 2.3 after a D-plus in English and an F in Algebra II.
6. Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time.
7. Ramon Ochoa-Lopez, 14, an introvert, plays six hours of video games on weekdays and more on weekends, leaving homework to be done in the bathroom before school.
8. Sean, a senior, concedes that video games take a physical toll: “I haven’t done exercise since my sophomore year. But that doesn’t seem like a big deal. I still look the same.”
9. “Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.”
10.”When rock ‘n’ roll came about, we didn’t start using it in classrooms like we’re doing with technology,” he says.
I have the sensation, as do my friends, that to function as a proficient human, you must both “keep up” with the internet and pursue more serious, analog interests. I blog about real life; I talk about the internet. It’s so exhausting to exist on both registers, especially while holding down a job. It feels like tedious work to be merely conversationally competent. I make myself schedules, breaking down my commute to its most elemental parts and assigning each leg of my journey something different to absorb: podcast, Instapaper article, real novel of real worth, real magazine of dubious worth. I’m pretty tired by the time I get to work at 9 AM.