Ironically, young people can be either more autonomous or more dependent because of this extraordinary technology. Notably, researchers are finding that connectivity is making some people more disconnected from each other. For example, young nomads often feel that the person on the other side of the BlackBerry should be always available – but in reality, all relationships have gaps and down times. The current illusion that everything is available instantly and easily for everyone makes young people less patient, less accomodating toward others. We must remember to be patient.
Dopod S1, Chinese iPhone look-alike (File photo)
Another negative potential for this amazing technology revolves around public (read: unsecure) networks. Young people often feel that because there is no paper trail in these new high-tech communications no tracing is possible. Using wireless and radio waves to transmit sensitive information, whether it be financial or emotional, is not as safe as one may think. People can and will listen in, lift information and use it for their own purposes. In addition, for me personally, involuntarilly listening to a person talking loudly about his romantic life on a cell phone while jammed on a bus is not my idea of a literary event, nor is listening to a Transformers movie blasting out of a laptop at a Starbucks. Mobile technology has freed urban nomads from phone lines and hook ups but the concept of public and private spaces have been drasically upset.
Don't get me wrong: Internet and cell phones are very cool tools. But it's significant to note that Internet researchers have found that over 50 percent of Chinese youth said they went online first for "personal"reasons; 31 percent said work was the cause; 19 percent cited school.
Humans can maintain only a limited number of personal relationships; most people typically keep ten to twenty important relationships, out of the approximately 1,000 individuals whom they interact with during their lifetimes. Friendships, in contrast to family relationships, are especially fragile for younger people and require active maintenance or they die. Family ties are accidents of birth and often maintained through obligation, but friendship and romantic relationships are voluntary: they need a regular investment of effort.