Thursday, March 29, 2007

The YouTube defense.

My parents, like their parents before them, think that their kids' generation is more morally deplorable than their own. My dad recently labeled my peers and me the "Me Generation," pointing to our selfishness that supposedly exceeds that of previous generations.

Technology is allegedly contributing to our moral downfall. I remember hearing someone at church actually saying "The devil is working through the internet." I was 13 or 14 at the time, the internet was relatively new, and some discomfort with change probably motivated that comment, but the message was the same. The future is full of backslidden young people making new things through which evil will do its dirty business.

Maybe I'm young and naive -- or perhaps just delusional -- but my perception of the world is very different from that of my parents.

I'm heartened by the evolution of philanthropy just in my own lifetime. There are now charities that are helping solve problems all over the world more efficiently, generously and creatively than ever before, in all of history. And a lot of the credit goes to technology.

New developments in communication have been forces for good in other areas besides direct philanthropy. This caught my eye today. It's an article by Andrew K. Woods for Slate about how YouTube is helping prevent torture and promote human rights.

Yes, there are horrible things happening in many places, but thanks to communication technology, these things are more visible than ever before -- making them bigger targets. We know about human rights violations because of cell phone cameras and YouTube, and therefore we can work against them.


Steve said...

I've never, ever, heard the term "backslidden". Is that a personal creation? (Love the Facebook group, by the way.)

Sharon said...

Yup. Growing up in church, I often heard the word "backslide" referring to youths gone astray. I put it in the past tense, but that in no way makes it a legitimate word.

So yes, I'd call it a personal creation.

WhiteFeather said...


Pav said...

Technology is at best value-neutral. The potential is there, but I dont think technology, on the whole, has been used for the Good. I think it is causing more problems than solutions. That said, it is here, and it isn't going away, so people like you and me, Sharon, have to do our best.

I dont see how youtube does shit for human rights.

...Oh, and, definately delusional.

Anonymous said...

For one way that technology is really helping the world, check out Provides a way to donate to charity over the net without having to pay - 100% of advertising revenue goes directly to the charities instead. So the internet does offer new opportunities to help the world!