Saturday, December 4, 2010

What Really Matters?

Post from Ismaeel
c/o 2013
So I recently discovered this yahoo answers website and I decided to ask the people of the webernetz what they thought and I got a pretty good response. 


What will generation Alpha bring to the society, and the world as we know of it today?

How will they influence the world, and why? Any specifics appreciated...

Answer: 1st world Alphas' parents will predominantly come from Generations X and Y. They will be the first generation of babies to enjoy the benefits of government-funded paid parental leave. Many will come from cashed-up households with two incomes, and parents who have delayed having children until their 30s.
They will live in a state of high technology and the pace of life will be exponentially faster. The majority of Gen Alphas will expect instantaneous and accurate things from food to information, and will more than likely find even the slightest inconvenience to be stressful. There could even be a significant and alarming sense of social isolation as social interaction is becoming less and less, with text messaging and social networking, people will not have to put much effort in staying in communication with each other. School and education could soon be predominantly online, cutting costs of supplies that schools use. Schools could, in 30 - 40 years, become a thing of the past, as more and more people graduate with teaching degrees, they will be able to be contracted by a few parents to educate their children from the computer.
Ultimately, the worry that I personally have is, is in reliance of the internet and the world wide web for almost EVERYTHING. Purchasing from amazon, social networks, online gaming addictions, hiring ESL writers to write your biology paper - America is reaching either it's peak or we are now declining, as every nation rises and falls in History. Will we become a group of lazy social inepts? Would we survive if the cord to the internet was cut somehow? Will we even remember how to properly write in cursive, or does that not even matter anymore?
I think my biggest fear for the upcoming generations is that everything is becoming digitized. When soldiers and sailors left for war in the 40s, no one knew exactly what was going on between 60 second news reels at cinemas that they would have to get up and drive to go see, and infrequent letters from the front. Now, we can quickly hop online and see every single world event that we desire while the coffee is brewing. In all sincerity, without thought of conspiracy or superstition, how would we survive as a nation if overnight, the world wide web ceased to exist?
It's is extremely frightening to watch our species build itself a flimsy pillar to stand on. One small flick...

Ms. Berman's response:
Although it is important to think of the future in a contextual sense, when we focus upon these abstract theories, we can lose sight of the essence of the individual. I believe in the power of each of us to inspire and evoke change, but it requires a clear sense of self and defining, humanistic goals.  And so I ask each of you now to respond to the following question:
What really matters?



  1. A quote from V for Vendetta comes to mind,'Our integrity sells for so little, but it's all that we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch, we are free.'
    Those of us who would sell ourselves out or short do the most damage to society as a whole.

  2. I believe that generation Alpha will bring more prosperity and more hope for effieciency. I also believe that the more we look to science and creativeness, the more society can advance medically and technologically. It is only when we work together can we prosper and progress.

    Jeffrey Q. Northern Arizona University

  3. I think today people do not need more advanced weapons and technology. We need to raise the moral standard. Often we fail to be an honest human being and without that, the society will never improve.

    YiQiu Hu, Northern Arizona University

  4. The important thing our generation needs to focus on is the development of technologies that can help human civilization as a whole. This is not just an individual achievement but also one that needs to be done systematically. There are a vast number of fields that are constantly working to achieve success in different forms of human complications. These such fields include medical, environmental, chemical, etc.

    Matthew Roberts, Northern Arizona University

  5. The advancement in technology is hardly a sign of danger, showing the dependence of the Alpha generation on technology. Even if the majority is dependent on such rapidly-evolving technology, around 1% of the generation will understand this technology. This is due to the fact that this technology is still increasing, always has been, and always will be. This is due to the 1% of the generation's causing this increase and advancement in technologies.
    As long as 50% of the Alpha generation is self-sufficient, 15% of the generation extremely productive to society, and 1% of the generation advancing in technology. The Alpha generation certainly looks like it will be heading this way in the future. Even if it may not be quite as promising as we would like it to be or as promising as past generations were, it still meets these standards and will succeed in this aspect.
    Ethan Shadley, Northern Arizona University

  6. Agreeing with Ethan, the Alpha generation's dependence on technology is not necessarily a sign of danger. The rapid development of technology in widespread fields including medicine, entertainment, communication, space exploration, and energy production create many opportunities for education and employment for the future generation. Exploring new fields of technology increases humanistic understanding of the world and defines our generation.

    However, when dependence on technology supercedes self-efficiency or replaces indivual empowerment, our generation will be faced with a technology-based identity crisis. As long as we maintain autonomy from technology, will not become proverbial slaves to the machine.

    Chelsea Karbon, Northern Arizona University

  7. It should be noted that technological advancements alone cannot solve societal issues. The way society works must change in order for humans to benefit fully from technology. Today's society depends on the internet for communication, which is not a bad thing, but we must learn how to communicate and advance through other means.

    Dan Roberts, Northern Arizona University

  8. individuals will always be the primary source of change. Humans are a young race and it will be a long time before things really change. humans have fought since the beginning and we've also always been driven to innovation. the truth is, what we know about the universe is almost insignificant when you consider the amount of information thats out there. this isnt a result of any decline of society or loss of morals, it's just that, again, we're a young race. It will not only take millenniums of life to change this, it will take generation after generation of people who initiate some small act of change, which contributes to ending all of the practices and beliefs which have mitigated innovation for so long. it's not easy to define this generation because its a time of transition. our world is changing around us and just like any other organism humans will do their best to adapt and survive. I can't say whether or not we will ever go back to traditional values,because those might not be the most conducive to evolving as a species. I can only speak for myself but imho these thoughts exist for a reason and that reason has always been a part of human kind, it cant happen overnight but slowly more and more people will begin to act on these thoughts and our views of karma and philanthropy will change. Individuals create change not by acting radically but by acting on the impulses which they have always knows will initiate change.

  9. In response to the “what really matters” question:

    Looking at this question from a slightly different point of view, it may be that "what matters" is determined not only by us as individuals but by society as a whole. In other words, society determines what really matters to us. I know that for activities that naturally bring us pleasure, like playing sports or listening to music, society's point of view does not really matter, but for things such as getting into a good college, earning good grades, buying expensive items etc. all of those things seem to be determined by society. Society applies a certain value to those things and therefore they "matter".

    Of course, if what only mattered to us were direct self-serving things like eating chocolate mousse, then we would be limited to a pretty primitive existence. (I think the pursuit of happiness can often be a false and misleading one for this reason) There would not really be goals such as curing world hunger, protecting endangered species, or connecting the globe through technological advancements. Concepts like environmental standards, human rights, animal rights, would not have existed if we did not have this expanded notion about “what really matters.”

    But let’s face it, for the most part, what really matters most to us is what directly affects us. So in that case, I think what would matter most to an individual is how they wish to live out their life. A pretty broad question of course, but if one looks at it as more of a general question, you can get some pretty insightful answers. Like, “How hard do you want to work in a job?” “What sort of people do you want surrounding you in your life?” “Do you like to live in different places, and if so what places?” Questions like these, though they are hard ones, can really tell you a lot about yourself.

    But for the moment, (since it really is a good thing to live in the moment) I think the most important thing is not to shut off your options unnecessarily. In the long run, if you keep a fairly steady drive towards, what you want/who you want to be in the future, most of the other things do not really matter. If you make mistakes, it is learning from those mistakes which matters, and being able to forgive yourself and feel good about yourself at the end of the day, which matters most. Don’t regret past actions, don’t wish you had more time; those will only result in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. The past cannot be changed, the future cannot be summoned, only the present can be remedied. Think about what you are doing now, even what you are planning to do, and that is what really matters.

  10. .......I learned some time ago that my "Happy" may at times intrude on other peoples "Happy" (I'll come back to this). What I do know is that the easier things come to people the less value they hold. My greatest fear is that in the near future the human race might come to be much like the Eloi and Morlock.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate abject struggle or a life of tea-totaling but I do however feel that when taking into consideration what makes me happy I also take into consideration how it may effect those around me.

    This question of "what really matters" in conjunction with the slippery slope fallacy of a jaded gen-alpha is compounded with the unmistakable self-deprecation of a generation so hyper connected by digital media that they perceive the loss of their ability to function as a society... and enough of the judgmental melodrama...

    What really matters today is what has always really mattered... treat those around you as the ends and not the means. When you are in line at the grocery store hang up your phone (trust me no one cares what Becky said to Lucy) and say hi to the cashier. He or She is a person, treat them as such. Not to long ago phones were limited to wired connectivity, gasp, we also used cave paintings to communicate before email came along. The point is "other people matter". I don't mean that you have to be nice to every Dick and Jane on the street but there is more to life than going around being completely self-absorbed.

    The best way I have ever heard the strange functioning of the generational divide expressed was in a 1990's song called "The Sunscreen Song" here are my favorite lines:

    Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

    Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

    Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

    Respect your elders.

    Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

    Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

  11. On the quote on dependence: "how would we survive as a nation if overnight, the world wide web ceased to exist". On thursday, everyone in most of San Diego who had Time Warner Digital Cable had their internet go out for a good two hours. When it came back, the comments on Facebook about the "blackout" were generally along the lines of "I was dead for two hours" and "I was so bored". We need to learn to lower our dependence on the internet (even though I am using the internet right now :/ to post this) and the television and increase our dependence on each other. Like what YiQiu said, the integrity and respect of the government and the population is what we will need to continue to advance our planet or else we will become motionless slabs of fat in front of a computer and television like I am now.

  12. I think the alpha generation quote is based a lot on "what if" theories. I agree with Ms. Berman that we might lose sight on what really matters though, with abstract ideas like these. Social communication, I think is increasing due to the online networks and such. But we need not lose what is important to us. All humanity might be lost in a digitized world. We need to hold on to the values of life: Love, peace, freedom, thoughtfulness, and much more that is part of what makes us human.

  13. I don't think that our dependance on technology is necessarily a downfall of this generation. Yes it is true that we would be much more productive if it weren't for the distractions of social networks and online television. Nevertheless, it would be idiotic to not take advantage of everything technology has to offer. As a neuroscience student and a researcher I see first hand how beneficial these advancements are for humanity. We now understand so much more about ourselves than ever before because engineers are constantly improving the quality of our medical and research equipment. We shouldn't be looking at this issue from one side. Global communication doesn't only mean Facebook or Skype. Global communication implies that nations are more connected. In the field of Public Health this means that we can now have global surveillance on the spread of disease.

    Now to answer your question: What really matters?
    What matters is what we do with these advancements. With our ability to now communicate with one another without having to physically face each other, we start to loose the "human element". What is the "human element"? It is our innate ability to comfort one another, to build real relationships, to give a complete stranger hope and inspire each other to do the same. If we rely 100% on technology to teach our children, to run our businesses, to diagnose a disease, we loose ourselves as humans. Instead as future doctors, business owners, educators, researchers and parents, we should take everything technology has to offer to improve our message, not replace it. We shouldn't care about having the best profile picture more than we care about each other and the world. Changing your profile picture of Facebook to a cartoon may bring "awareness" to child abuse, but it is not doing something about it. Real change requires an action, not a post. So like I mentioned before, technology should only strengthen our message and our mission, not replace it.

  14. If the question, "What really matters?", is thought through logically, then the next sub-question would be "What do people want from life?". In theory, the responses to both of these questions should be the same dependent on the wants of any particular individual.

    However, I would think that anyone's answers to these questions would suggest an ultimate goal of happiness.

    Applying this idea to technology... Yes, technology has changed the way we live. Whether or not technology is good or bad is not dependent on the fact that it has changed the way we live, but on whether or not it has changed our ability to be happy.

  15. I have found that as I get older, I think that family and friends matter. They are the ones who will be there through thick and thin. They are the ones who will support you through the good and bad times. Jobs and co-workers will come and go, but your family and close friends will always be there. I’ve also tried to learn something new every day. To try and see things in a new and different light.