9. Does social media isolate us?

When I first got on Facebook in 2005, after being “sucked in,” I began to foresee the possible negative effect of social media on humans. I wondered what the impact of ‘relational technology’ (social media, texting, chat, etc.) would have on social isolation and identity. In 2006 the Richmond Times-Dispatch asked me to write an article on my observations where you can see what I was thinking and read about my earliest experience with Facebook:

So-Called Relational Technology Might Erode Nation’s Social Fabric.

Back then, there was no research on how social media was affecting humans since it was a new phenomenon. This was going to be the topic of my research seven years ago, but unfortunately, my advising professor and I had a disconnect, and we could never agree on a thesis.

However, this new motion graphic video does an excellent job telling the story of what I’ve been seeing over the last eight years—and now there’s research to back it.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

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Posted in Human Development, Society, Technology Influence | 1 Comment

8. What should I do with my life?

NPR ran a story that may hit close to home for many recent college graduates, “I know I’m supposed to follow my passion. But what if I don’t have a passion?” At some point everyone asks the question, “What am I going to do with my life?” The segment introduces a recent Ivy League college graduate, Max, who is trying to maximize his future opportunities, yet questions if passion is really the missing link to solving his equation. The NPR spot closes in on the variable of “passion” by citing the amount of commencement speeches year after year instructing graduates to follow their passion. Continue reading

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7. Political impression

What impression might a foreigner visiting from another planet gather from the American political process? A culture that prizes leaders who can exalt themselves and their accomplishments the best while simultaneously trying to make the other leader out to be the biggest liar. They might conclude that whoever packs the most virulent attack against the other is the one who this culture deems worthy as their national leader.

“Long lives the king who can strike down his fellow citizen the best!”

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Posted in General, Society | 5 Comments

6. Shaping influences–human development

Picture two plants of the same species growing in two different environments. One seed is planted in a protected inland area with soft, rich soil and moderate water. Another grows on a rocky cliff near a sea with relentless winds. We can imagine the shrub inland might grow more upright and have a certain form, while the shrub near the water may grow at an angle from being windswept and could perhaps have a much different root pattern to adapt to the terrain. Continue reading

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5. Economic reality?

There are so many unfortunate realities presented in this comic. Think about the quandary of the Millennial Generation: not only do many young American’s face their own personal student debt, but they also bear an incredible national debt of over $14 trillion, plus obligations to fund other future liabilities.

Have we given the Millennial Generation an asset or liability? Continue reading

Posted in Education, Society, Young Adult Experience | 5 Comments

4. Climbing the stairs — to what?

Pretend all you have ever known is how to climb stairs. From a young age you were trained to scramble up stairs really quickly with great agility; you are most familiar with interior staircases found in any skyscraper which you are able ascend with masterful ability.

Yet one day, the world changes and you find yourself dropped in middle of an expansive field. Your gaze is naturally set toward your feet looking for that next familiar step up, but all your eyes meet is a foreign landscape of endless grass in all directions. Mountains are miles off in one direction, an ocean acres away in another—a choice of 360° in which to move forward and not a clue as what to do.

In essence, this is how we prepare our young.  Continue reading

Posted in Education, Society | 3 Comments

3. What’s the product of education?

When we become too focused on the product, we may miss the purpose. Hyper-focus on a product usually stems from a desire to produce results (sales, rankings, or scores). How many times in business or athletics have organizations become so transfixed on the result that lost is the purpose for which they entered the game? –ultimately resulting in personal or corporate demise.

Perhaps the same thing is occurring in education? Continue reading

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2. What are we shaping?

Is education really educating? Or has main-stream education fallen more into a results-driven machine with the goal of producing test scores, college rankings, and the like? Though my last post had ‘college’ in the title, I’m considering the broader institutions that society entrusts to develop the emerging or young adult population which spans from high school through graduate institutions. Continue reading

Posted in Education, General | 3 Comments

1. College prepares students for what?

Over the past several years, I’ve been observing and writing about the malaise that many twentysomethings experience post-college: feeling stuck, not finding satisfaction in career direction or relationships, unsuccessfully grappling for greater purpose in life, etc. These are all part of what I’ve called The Twenties BeatDown.”

Though it appears this phenomenon is now surfacing in the college years.  Recently, I’ve observed many of the students I mentor are enduring significant amount of duress during their college years, which I personally did not experience. People used to experience their crisis mid-life, then quarter-life, now it seems to be creeping down in the earlier years of college. Since these are still critical formative years, perhaps it’s a good idea to ask if higher education is really achieving the desired result Continue reading

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