Youth as Cyborgs

This post is based on some great thinking from Sally. Todays youth in 1st and 2nd world countries are now CYBORGS – completely dependent on technology to make them more efficient and social creatures. They can’t function unless they are part of a collective cyberspace where technology dependence helps them belong.

Youth as Cyborg

Youth as Cyborg

These teens and 20 somethings have internalised technology, so much so that the lines between the real and cyber world are completely blurred. They are intravenously fed by a constant stream of content and conversations. Youth have shifted the way their self identities are formed and created via Facebook, Myspace etc. They do this via profiling and putting on an external ‘cover’ to the world, these online identities often mask the real person, and are created to ‘fit in’  with the digital tribe, but also create a persona that is liked and admired by their cyber networks. Just like a cyborg, there online identities are perfectly crafted and it’s all putting on a ‘better version of my real self’ online.

Cyborgs can adapt to their environments, and todays youth this by having splintered personas, one minute I’m an ‘Indie’, next minute i’m a ‘Hippster’, the next a ‘Surfie’. They are the ultimate chameleons.  Mobile phones are replacing the young peoples MEMORY.  Think about it, teens have their friends phone number in their mobiles, they have calculators, they have cameras to capture moments, to do lists, they can TIVO a program..their memories are turning to mush as all this technology symbiotically replaces their memory structures. When a teen loses his/her mobile, they feel as though they’ve lost a part of their identity. In addition to all of this, think about how youth use ipods as fashion accessories, they use them as both ‘armour’ to protect them from social interaction (mobile as personal shield to the world) as well as portraying an image to the world. Also, the songs they listen to become embedded in their minds, further fusing their digital mind.

The last element is ‘mixed reality’ – as alternate reality technology becomes more widely available we’ll see young people become more and more engaged with proximity based technologies which help them engage with locations and each other.

5 thoughts on “Youth as Cyborgs

  1. Pingback: My top 10 posts of ‘09 « Dan Pankraz Vs Youth

  2. Interesting suggestion. However I think it is worth trying to place the recent connection you describe in the context of history. Surely since humans began using tools we began offloading ‘natural’ talents onto equipment. One theory has it that our guts have reduced in size once we began using fire to cook. Fire allowed us to extract more from our food with less effort. Similar steps have happened since (in the developed world): Manual labour is now far less common… electricity and heating are obvious other examples. In the cognitive-sphere our invention writing and then the printing press allowed us to delegate ‘memory’ on to paper. Phone books have been around for ages (and how many numbers did people really remember?)… shopping lists have been around for a long time too!
    I agree that the internet/computers/smart phones/etc are changing the way we think, I’m not sure if it can be categorised into good/bad. There’s far more information available to us – which forces us to process information differently. I still buy paperback fiction books – but they’re appearing more anachronistic every day.
    I wonder about ‘attention’ – my response to this blog post is a case in point – I managed to concentrate on my matlab scripting for 25 minutes before deciding to click on facebook. I realise that to read a science paper I need to print it out and read it away from computers/internet.
    Interesting discussion, and… bbl facebook…

  3. I think this is a compelling argument. As someone who works for a cellphone company, I quickly discovered that the loss of a cellphone is a truly tragic event for a teenager. All their photos are stored in their cellphones, the way to contact their friends and family, and the ability to stay in touch with Facebook, all contained in one device.

  4. Make your mind up, either they ‘are now cyborgs’ or are ‘just like a cyborg’. Sloppy reasoning around a ludicrous idea. Just because teens are familiar with Facebook, doesn’t mean anything; they are still consumers, in this case of a website. In real life they still go to school and still eat, they have no mechanical parts, ergo, they are not cyborg. No matter how many Photoshopped pics of Kate Moss you put up. And as climate change bites and changes our world, they will find they have to exist in a real world that’s collapsing around them, and will face famine that no amount of social media will affect. You are only see the trees, not the wood. You are blinded by technology and think it will continue to develop into the future, unstoppable, inexorable. Not the case, computers depend on raw materials and energy to be made, they are made of finite stuff like plastics from fossil fuels [running out] and a global capitalist economy which rapes the Earth and exploits people, it won’t [can’t] continue forever.

  5. Relax Rationalist… I mean cynic. Technology will never stop growing no matter how many resources are depleted (on earth).

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