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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Choose Civility: Are you listening Congress?


    As the picture above shows there was an overflow crowd for the Howard County Library's Choose Civility presentation on how the smartphone technology has changed how we relate to each other.

The panel at this presentation called "OMG to AARP" consisted of the following individuals:

David Burstein, Founder & Executive Director of Generation18 and author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World
Jennifer Howard, senior reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education
Brad Sachs, psychologist and bestselling author of The Good Enough Child and The Good Enough Teen
Karen Stohr, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and author of On Manners
Collin Sullivan, Long Reach High School student and Voices for Change member

     The discussion highlighted how the new technology has been embraced almost universally by the "Millennial Generation" but somewhat reluctantly by those over 65.  Persons 25 to 34 are almost three times as likely to own a smartphone as a person over 65. It is not surprising that senior citizens are not the ones driving the smartphone market but the fact that usage of smartphones by young persons was similar regardless of income level was surprising. The question of the night was "are we connecting personally with the new technology?"  Examples of the technology reducing the face to face experiences were balanced with how the new technology, like Skype, has given us new ways to connect with each other. 
     The present situation with Congress being unable to be effective in carrying out their responsibilities was brought up a few times during the discussions.  This was a central point in Congressman Cummings remarks.  He had just come from a meeting at the White House to discuss the government shutdown.  He spoke about how at a Congressional hearing today on the IRS official in charge of the office that determined non profit status for organizations was mocked by Republican members of the committee.   He mentioned how he tried to introduce some civility into the hearing by asking the official if she had a family.  She responded that she did and mentioned her family members.  This humanize the official that had been demonized by the Republicans and changed the tone of the questions after that.  The Congressman pointed out that the danger in demonizing our opponents. Something that Congress would be smart to recognize in resolving their present efforts to address our nation's governmental issues.

    In case you missed the Daily Show recently with Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban here is the episode to watch.  Don't be surprised she wins the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow.

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