In defense of the Facebook Generation

by Tim Batt

In defense of the facebook generationI have recently bought the world’s greatest mobile phone: the HTC One. I write that with minimal hyperbole, many technology websites including TechRadar have named it The Greatest Phone available right now. I haven’t touched it yet, it’s on pre-order and should arrive in New Zealand in a fortnight. I can’t afford it and the balance is sitting on my Visa. So what drives a man who is desperately trying to claw his way out of personal debt to take on more when he has a perfectly good phone already? The same reason two reasons anyone does anything: Emotion and People.

Tech enthusiasts like myself have, until quite recently been painted as nerds who retreat into a world of computers, gaming and gadgets out of necessity. Nerds have been depicted as people who don’t understand the social world, don’t ‘get’ people and are woefully ill-equipped to deal with the opposite sex. The unfulfilled emotional drives they have as humans are therefore transferred to a ‘love’ of gadgets. Thankfully the stereotype is changing because it’s complete bullshit. I love gadgets because I love people.

Why do people want a powerful computer in 2013? In the 1980s and early 90s it was for solitary or scientific reasons like writing code or running complex maths. Now it’s for video editing – an incredibly creative and artful pursuit, or gaming – a heavily social endeavour in most titles or in solo play, an engaging way to participate in a story. Top-selling series like Starcraft, Bioshock and even Call of Duty tell amazing stories with political and ethical interplay while entertaining us with the gameplay itself.

So why would I spend $1,000 on a phone? It has a full HD screen, a very fast processor, lots of on-board digital storage and an amazing camera. Every one of those components is used to interact with people and with art. The amazing screen will let me watch movies and see all the incredible details the film-maker captured. The fast processor lets me read news from around the world while Tweeting, while Facebooking, while emailing, while doing any number of other interactions with people. The new camera technology allows greater low light photography than ever before on a mobile, to capture memories of parties and get-togethers. This is why I bought it and these are the reasons people buy phones.

I completely reject the notion that technology is dehumanising us and that Facebook will usher in a generation who can’t interact face to face. Technology is absolutely bringing people together and allowing more people to participate, often making fantastic creative projects in the process. Technology is not the problem, it never has been. Humans have always found new and exciting ways to communicate but usually their form was dictated by war – from smoke signals to Morse code. Now we are seeing the proliferation of peacetime communication: Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and texting.

I bought a $1,000 phone to make creative things and talk to people. Is that nerdy? Because those two reasons sound pretty bohemian to me.


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1 comment

Jarrod Baker April 8, 2013 - 11:46 pm

By “talk to people” you mean texting or emailing or tweeting though, right? If not and you’re actually using your voice then that’s pretty retro.


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