Monday, January 24, 2011

The world wide web in the words of Jane Addams?

While reading through Jane Addams'selection from "The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets," one theme of present day came to my mind, the internet. While this may be a broad concept, with every word I read it just seemed to fit into this theme that was brewing in my mind. Addams writes about the theater acting as a "house of dreams" for young people, "...a place where they can satisfy that craving for a conception of life higher than that which the actual world offers them," (pg. 26). I thought of the way that some websites also do this for people, such as Second Life, Farmville, etc. These activities offer some sort of satisfaction to people who use them regularly, possibly fulfilling a need they possess to catch a glimpse of something outside of their world. Another idea that Addams explains is that, "...while many people go to the theater if only to see represented, and to hear discussed, the themes which seem to them so tragically important, there is no doubt that what they hear there, flimsy and poor as it often is, easily becomes their actual moral guide," (pg. 28). This idea led me to social media (and, just to mention, reality television shows like Jersey Shore). If young people see posts from their role models (whether these be celebrities or not) on Twitter or Facebook, do they start to believe these are the values and opinions they feel that they should find important? Also, are things that young people read, watch, and interact with online, '"literally making the minds of our urban populations today?"'(pg 28.) Addams goes on to explain that theater,'" a place of culture, a place where people learn to think, act, and feel."'Is the same true for the websites young people are saturated with today?

This may be a broad comparison, due to the infinity of websites, but nonetheless, I saw a connection. :) I suppose it could be less generalized and make comparisons specifically to social media, however, I felt that when comparing it to Addams' selection, it could hit on many areas.

1 comment:

  1. I was drawn to Addams' essay also. However, I disagreed with her opinions. She demonizes the movies as robbing the youth of imagination, culture, and moral compass. She easily recalls kids committing crimes because of the movies to prove her point. This is a very convenient way to prove her point. How many other crimes did they commit for how many other reasons? How many of these other reasons may have included activities which she deems as "adequate recreation"? Celebrating the past with traditional dance, music, dress and holidays, as well as athletic competitions are her appropriate recreational activities. How can we ever progress if we are always looking at the past? Also, who is to say that these festivals are not just as damaging to the youth? What if they are celebrating events or people which are not "good" or can also result in crimes? I would imagine that Addams would approve of Christmas, yet how many crimes are committed for the celebration of Christmas? I don't think it would be hard to find youth who had stolen money to buy Christmas gifts. I do not think there is any difference between the recreational activities Addams approves of and disapproves of.