Thank you at Boulder High

By Limor Shiponi

Guy Benson, Ross Haenfler, Howard Schultz and myself on one stage at Boulder High, speaking about “Modern Media and the Teenage Mind”. How does that sound to you? 🙂

Boulder High has its own subcommittee for CWA and from what I’ve seen, if you want to find out what’s going to keep the US busy along the next ten years, always start with glancing through their program. They have the most intriguing panel headlines and they summon whoever they think should be there to try and give them answers.

What do you say to people aged 14-18 without patronizing, preaching, frightening, prettying or trying to be pathetically “cool” while at the same time wanting to leave food for thought they will seriously consider? the truth, because I don’t have more than that. These were my ideas. Lots of criticism, some good news further down:

The “on demand customized media center” screen stuck at the back of the seat in front of me was flashing “sweep your card before it’s too late!” which was then followed by “it’s not too late! sweep your card NOW!”. Upon arriving to the US I started seeing signs carrying slogans like “instantly available” and “available year round”. Can’t see why things need to be so instant and year round – there is a heavy price to that. We are being pushed to consume fast and much, all the time.

Before Facebook timeline started rolling out I decided to write a tutorial for young people. Yes, there were those “digging” down other people’s walls before timeline but that task was performed by rather few. Suddenly, everything was about to float and I knew there were many dangers in that for young people – most of them unaware of what those dangers might be. After writing the first draft I asked some youngsters what they thought.

The most prominent question was “what do you mean everyone can see everything, even the ‘in a relationship’ thing?” Answering “yes” made many of them freak-out. I wanted to know why, here is the explanation I’ve received: guys dating a girl for the first time will eventually meet the questions “had a girlfriend?” “when did you break-up?” a split second after giving the answer she’s already scrolling down your timeline on her smart and if you were wrong – you’re doomed.

What I don’t like about this is that people are getting used to cancel out a person on the basis of such a detail so easily tracked.

I think it’s about time teenagers grow a third hand. One you use for carrying your smartphone, the other for pulling up your “stylish dropping pants”, how are you going to pick your nose?! besides, your ears are blocked with earphones, your sight with screens that will soon become goggles (by a company with a close name), what on earth will you allow to be blocked next?!

I come from a country that excels in developing weapons that hit harder, more accurately, from a greater distance. In order to avoid dehumanization of people on both ends a very high level of ethics, morality and values needs to be practiced, which I know – sounds strange and is not easy at all to keep. Some social platforms allow for exactly the same fatal outcome – is anyone there even considering dehumanization? no, nobody is really watching what they are doing.

(I must add that this issue – people getting hurt on social platforms and fatal outcomes – bothers young people immensely. Time to stop the “social platforms don’t amplify something that isn’t there already” slogan – it’s a BIG lie and young people can feel it in their guts. Stop telling them not to trust their own guts).

About media and violence – media companies like to say violence in the media does not influence young people’s behavior. Well, the problem is we are looking at images created by professionals, not by our own imagination. They gradually make us get used to more and more violence we cannot necessarily handle but through numbing our senses we get used to it. That’s where storytelling stands apart – the images created via listening to a storyteller are images created by your own imagination and they are always images you can handle.

The good part: social media supports the possibility everyone can be a leader – in the right time and context. You don’t need to be a “stand apart” leader or a “leader of the people”. Those two positions, once you get there, can be very difficult and costly to keep. The third kind of leadership is contextual – if you think you can help just go out there and contribute. Adults and systems have important roles here: stand witness, teach how to do things in the right order, tell the truth, facilitate possibilities and tools, keep the frame relevant to what youngsters are doing, validate worthy actions – public and social not only academic, create clear definitions and help with assimilation.

We were all curious to hear their questions and they had great questions, some of them really mind boggling. And then this guy gets to the mic and asks a question about social media, social revolutions and how all this actually happens. I answered his question not knowing it was about to kick-off my mind far away into a thought-journey that lasted for the rest of the day and night until the next morning, when I participated in another panel about social-media. I arrived there with new insights never considered before, totally stunned from the effect of one question, simply asked. Young man – thank you. Your question has ignited something which is about to help many people rethink some important stuff. Coming soon…

5 thoughts on “Thank you at Boulder High”

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