The irony of the growing popularity of Internet and computer use by Millennials that S. Craig Watkins writes about in “The Young & The Digital,” cannot escape me. Young people want to interact with friends and others all the time, but the fact of the matter is that these people who desire to share their thoughts and lives with others in the digital sphere are in fact alone on their computers, isolated from actual human-to-human contact. I agree with Watkins that websites such as Facebook, Myspace, and the ABC Family website provides an alternative medium for people to stay intimately connected with friends, and feel as if they are part of a community, however, I find it troubling that people actually become satisfied with the relationship and sense of community that they have maintained and developed online. The Internet use has been “ingrained as a routine part of [almost all Millennial’s] everyday lives, shaping how they learn, live, play, and communicate with their peers (Watkins, 3-4); it is an “addiction.” Yes, in the digital world, we may be members of a whole variety of communities and may be interacting with “people” all day, but I cannot ignore that the more and more we spend on then internet, the less we are getting involved in REAL LIFE community building and friend interaction; we are interacting with a computer not a person. I obviously am part of this “new reality” of interaction, as I myself avidly check Facebook and I am writing this blog alone in my room, but I am honestly a little worried about the future of online and computer use. I can’t really imagine a world where we are more involved in our virtual online personas than our actual lives.
In the pilot episode of ABC Family’s Kyle XY, Kyle who wakes up in a world not knowing how to speak, eat, or interact with people, does actually show proficient use of using the computer at first sight. Kyle XY targets young teens as their audience, and through this depiction of Kyle being an alien who knows how to use a computer, suggests and prompts young viewers to become savvy computer and internet users as well. As Louisa Ellen Stein suggests in her article “Word of mouth on steroids,” ABC Family “endorses a vision of a youthful contemporary viewership that approaches media with a sense of active engagement and ownership” (128). This sense of active engagement is manifested in ABC Family’s online website for Kyle XY, where it combines “community-oriented social networking with video-game-like explorative play in order to create spaces that will appeal to its desired Millennial fan base” (Stein, 133). Furthermore, not only do young viewers get to watch Kyle XY on TV, but they are able to watch it online as well, while also given the opportunity to participate and interact within the show as well. Kyle XY portrays teens as savvy technology users, and encourages their viewers to be as well.
Watkins suggests that the more to more personal, social, and mobile screens marks a pivotal moment in our cultural history, as the rise of the computer screen is eclipsing the popularity of the television screen. As this process evolves, more and more individuals will the Internet and computer use ingrained in their life….all that I can hope is that the Millennial generation is not remembered for the fall of person-to-person interaction. (Probably a little extreme and paranoid, but scary…dun dun dun!)