Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

A Hideout All Their Own: The iPod Didn't Invent Youthful Alienation. It Merely Perfected It

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

A Hideout All Their Own: The iPod Didn't Invent Youthful Alienation. It Merely Perfected It

Article excerpt

"It was in the fig tree, a few years later, that I was first puzzled by the conflict which would haunt me, harm me, and benefit me the rest of my life: simply, the stubborn, relentless, driving desire to be alone as it came into conflict with the desire not to be alone when I wanted not to be."--Lillian Hellman

NO ONE ESCAPES into fig trees anymore. We have iPods for that--or rather our kids do. Existential brooding is a youthful privilege; after a certain age you just have to get on with it.

I'd been searching for that Hellman quote ever since we published our March issue, in which students gave their own reasons for using technology ("What Students Want"; www.thejournal.com/articles/20336). Was it for pleasure? For information? For knowledge? None of the above, they said. The story reported, with some earnest hand-wringing, that kids use technology, particularly the iPod, mostly to get away--to seal out the world. To pull a Hellman, as it were.

That's no reason for alarm, or even surprise. The only lesson to draw is that the iPod has not only replaced CD players and Walkmans but fig trees, too. Granted, that might not be an even exchange--there's a lot more poetry to be extracted from a fig tree. …

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