The Agenda with Steve Paikin’s interview “Andrea Lunsford on the Myths of Digital Literacy” discusses how students today have a mostly untapped capacity for communication through digital tools. At Stanford University, students were given the opportunity to turn in extra material along with their academic writing, including videos, diary entries, emails, text messages, poems, and more. Paikin asked Lunsford several times whether digital technology and today’s fast-paced communication world have made students deficient in their writing skills. This portion of the interview reminded me of Vsauce’s video, Juvenoia, which examines the evidence that the concept of the apathy of the youngest generation is nothing new. In fact, there is a quote attributed to Socrates that suggests this very idea: “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”
As Lunsford explains, students today are as well-versed as they have ever been. It is also clear to me that intellectuals have condemned younger generations as corrupt and incapable of truly communicating properly for centuries.
I found these texts fascinating, because I think that there is certainly a bias against students today, especially in their capacity to interact with older generations and in higher levels of learning. If anything, students today are more literate, but in very different ways. However, I don’t personally see digital literacy as a barrier. I think that having digital literacy is a skill that will be imperative for everyone in just a decade or two.
With privilege comes responsibility, though. As Lunsford states, students are engaging in “life writing” more often today, which means that they are interested in writing and communicating about their everyday lives more. In this realm, “it’s hard to tell who’s a writer and who’s an audience any more because the interaction is so instantaneous,” according to Lunsford. I think that there are a lot of possibilities for “life writing” (most of my English teachers have encouraged students to “write what they know”), but there is also the potential for a loss of genuine communication when we get too comfortable with instant communication methods.
I hope that I can explore these complications with digital literacy further throughout this semester. It’s clear to me that the ability to communicate in more technological ways is becoming more and more important, but I also know that this growth has potential drawbacks.