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Cloe Shasha

Associate Programs Producer, TED Content, TED

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What are the defining qualities of today's youth?

Every generation seems to think that the next generation is vastly different from their own.

The characteristics that a generation identifies with, however, may not be the characteristics that others believe that generation identifies with.

Are there any defining qualities of today's youth that you have observed that you believe are relevant to the youth of the world?

Is it even possible to attribute qualities to an entire generation around the world?

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    Oct 10 2011: I'm not quite sure which attributes are the best to describe this, but the defining hallmark of today's youth is the fact that they never knew a world without the internet.
    Where does this inter-conectedness lead to? Not sure...
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      Oct 11 2011: Although today's youth is more connected through the Internet, I think that they are also more disconnected socially, as they spend more time on the Internet rather than making real contact with people. For example, people have many "friends" these days on Facebook, but the connection between these friends are probably not as strong.
    • Oct 11 2011: Anonymity on the internet breaks down the old barriers of race, nationality, religion, and whatever else you could think of that has been used to divide humanity. It is because of this that the youth of today, like myself, are more connected with others. The emotions we feel for the person on the other side of the screen forms an unprejudiced relationship with a fellow human being, nothing more, nothing less.

      These relationships may be judged by some to be superficial and not as 'deep' as those we could form with the people around us, but they are forgetting that most of us have friends offline in addition to the ones we make online. So if anything, we are more social than we would have been without the internet.

      For me, personally, the friends I make online strengthen the sense of solidarity I have with the rest of humanity. It puts a human face on what I read in the news. I believe that the social worth of most of these online relations should not be compared to those we experience offline. They are different, but neither is inferior to the other.
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        Oct 11 2011: Hi Chris, I think this is a really good point. I also believe that our relationships online through social media are unrelated to our face to face relationships, and that we require both and view both differently. I believe in the value of both.
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        Oct 12 2011: It's good that people are making online relationships in addition to offline ones, but do you think their attention gets divided when that happens? Or is the online network truly just an extension of the friends that people already have.
        • Oct 12 2011: I wouldn't say it divides my attention. I feel that's viewing it too simplistically. I speak for myself of course when I say this, but the only time I interact with my online friends is when I'm at home, in front of the computer, or when I'm on public transport on my phone, or while waiting for someone, or when I'm bored. I think you get the general idea. I don't have to multitask the relationships; my online relations take up the otherwise non-social stretches of time in my life.

          That being said, I also talk to my offline friends on social media. I interact with them on a more frequent basis (practically everyday) than I would if they were just strictly offline friends (weekends). The internet really helps bring me closer to people; those I know personally, and those I don't. So yes, I think it truly is an extension, maybe more.

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