So many monkeys with hi-tech sticks

Is the selfie craze harming children?
Is the selfie craze harming children?

By Jerzy Morkis

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when I was breezing through life dripping with liberal tolerance and a ‘live and let live’ philosophy which I applied to one and all.

But somewhere along the line I morphed into an irascible old fogey who can make Victor Meldrew appear to have the patience of a saint.

A great deal of what lies behind my new(ish) cantenkerous dimension has to do with the so-called digital age, and before anyone simply dismisses me as a Luddite, haud your wheesht.

Far from complaining about the technological advances that we are immersed in, I love them; the changes can’t come fast enough, and there aren’t enough of them. They have opened up the world in a way I never would have thought possible – it is a magical time to be alive.

You can sense a ‘but’ coming here eh?

The problem I see, is that while we are becoming technically more and more advanced, psychologically we’re not keeping pace – a bit like monkeys with very sophisticated sticks, and that’s what lights my fuse.

One of these sticks is the so-called ‘social media’, a relatively new phenomenon on man’s space-time continuum, yet one which has already spawned ‘experts’.

My depleted reservoir of liberal tolerance was drained a little more the other night with a report of the harm the ‘selfie’ is causing to our children.

For those not aware of the term, a ‘selfie’ is, essentially a self-portrait photograph. That’s not to say it’s like that mug shot of me up above, it’s more “this is me/us doing this here”, and with the underlying message “aren’t we really cool”. The selfie has become such a big deal, apparently, that it is now inflicting psychological damage on our children, so the experts say.

No, it’s not, I say; it’s peer pressure, immaturity, vanity and naivity.

According to those social media experts, there is now no escape from the demanding tentacles of digital adolescent networking. In the ‘old days’, they point out, when you got home from school you had respite from your daily elbowing for social status and approval. But not now, oh no. Social media is 24/7, there is no break.

Cut to three lassies in the street with their smartphones, telling the viewers how they always need to ‘look good’ in their constantly updating ‘selfies’ and the pressure that causes.

What a piece of utter nonsense. And to blame it on social media is just daft. A little bit of maturity might just put life into perspective. If you don’t like it, don’t do it, and that’s easily done when there is an on/off switch. And if more people used that off switch we might just weed out those folk who think it is incredibly important to tell us every piece of minutae about their daily doings.

Get a life.

Well annoyed with the ‘selfie’ nonsense, the same news programme then turned to a particular computer game now being adapted for the classroom. The game is aimed at inspiring creativity, with the pupils then writing about the on-screen scenarios they had created.

I have no problem with this and wish we’d had that when I was at school. However, I can feel a ‘but’ looming. There is now a case being made that there is no need to learn how to write, as in handwriting, with pens and pencils and paper. The children’s creative writing only involves a keyboard.

I’m not so sure about that, then we get a close up of one girl’s work which has been tapped out Entirely in small caps like this.

The ‘but’ is now here.

So, no handwriting... but no promotion of keyboard skills such as touch typing.

No calligraphy... but no understanding of typography, never mind serif and sans fonts, and the reasons to use certain typefaces.

Nevertheless, it’s all wrapped up as another great innovation, but once the wrapping is off, it’s just another monkey with a stick.