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shadowwalker
02-15-2016, 08:18 PM
Just a thought I had today as I glanced through various posts here and on other forums:

Are new writers at a disadvantage because of the internet, social media, smartphones, etc? I can't help but wonder when I see posts about characterization, and it seems that so many people who are adept at secondary interactions (via devices) have very little understanding of human beings. It's almost like they understand "LOL" but don't know the difference between a nervous laugh and a "I totally get it!" laugh. They don't understand facial expressions or body language, and they don't get motivation (they think characters always want something tangible). I just wonder if, as devices take over as methods of communication, we're losing our ability to interact on a primary level, or to learn about real human beings and not just a username on facebook. What could be the impact on writers and what they write, if they lose this "live" connection to others?

Just contemplating...

Latina Bunny
02-15-2016, 09:40 PM
I think I can understand that devices can take up a lot of our lives. (My family is having this problem with the invention of the iPhone and Internet. Guilty as charged, heh. :P )

At the same time, though... The Internet (and various electronics) is not entirely evil, either. Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but this OP sounds like a generation rant against tech, Internet, social media, etc..

What about those of us who are socially anxious? (I can read some body language and tone, but not always. I can still interact nicely with people offline, too. :) )

Even without tech, some people will still sometimes have socially awkward moments, lol. :P

What about those of us on the autism spectrum?

What about people who get deeply absorbed into books and other independent activities, like drawing/painting/coloring? (If my sisters and I weren't on some kind of electronics, then we were reading fiction and nonfiction books, or, as is often the case with my sister, drawing pictures.)

I'm a bit confused on how do you know if someone doesn't understand body/facial language over the web? Did they explicitly say they can't read body language/facial expressions?

Maybe you feel you see more people who don't understand body language/facial expressions is because you're seeing more types of people being able to access and communicate on the web?

Like, for example, you're seeing more people with Asperger's or social anxiety, or who admit they have Asperger's or social anxiety, etc?

Maybe because the Internet and social media and devices allow more types of people to have a voice and presence that they wouldn't have pre-tech?

For example, some groups of people are sometimes bullied/teased/assaulted/etc offline, so the Internet allows those groups to communicate with other people in the world who share their interests and find "safe places" to escape to.

The Internet allows me to talk about LGBT issues that I'm not comfortable talking about offline. (I'm still deeply closeted.) It gives me hope when I can see other LGBT and able to see and sometimes participate in discussions about various LGBT stuff (and comfort to ask about embarrassing or intimate, personal subjects, like sex/erotica/pregnancy/genitals/etc.)

Yes, the Internet and social media and devices have their bad sides, but that's something that people have to step up and find balance for themselves (or help others to find their own balance).

Whiskey_Black
02-15-2016, 09:46 PM
I think that technology could play a role in writer's being "disconnected", or hell, just people in general.


But I don't think that it's the main reason.


Some people need that face to face to understand what the other person is saying because they need to be able to read body language and mannerisms. Some people connect better when it's not face to face because it helps alleviate social anxiety.


It's funny, or sad rather, that you mention how some people "just don't get it". There was a guy that I dated last year for a short period of time. It was a horribly toxic relationship and I got out after he pulled a gun on me (because I told him that I wanted to end it.) He was a cop. The gun he pulled was his duty weapon. He suffers from really bad depression and the idiot's got some serious pent up anger issues. I can recall on more than one occasion when we would try to have "normal conversations" and it just didn't work. He was also about ten years younger than me. The guy would actually TALK in text speak. If he saw something amusing, or if I said something funny he'd say "OMG!, LOL" It made me want to throat punch him.


He was a very disturbed individual who had zero self esteem. Instead of trying to work on it though he would hold everyone but me at arms length and think and overthink until he was a bubbling ball of rage. Then something random would set him off and he would start beating on his steering wheel, screaming, crying, yelling and driving like a speed demon through rush hour traffic.


He also told me on a near daily basis "I don't understand you. I don't get your sarcasm. 99% of the time it just goes right over my head. Why can't you talk like a normal person?"


This kid has no worthy social skills and he hates the world, so there's not really any hope of him improving them. He doesn't seem to want to. All he wants is pity. People like him have social anxiety, paranoia and don't understand how to read people's body language. He didn't seem to understand the difference between my "I'm just joking" laugh and my "holy crap that's the funniest thing EVER" laugh. He didn't pick up on little voice inflections that to most are clues as to if I'm being serious or I'm totally being sarcastic.


It's scary to think that there are people like that, and he's the first that I've ever met. What's even scarier is that this guy is a cop and can't comprehend these things.


I don't think that writer's will lose the "live" connection because so many of us enjoy people watching, and eavesdropping on conversations at bars and such. I really think that it just depends on the person and to what level they are comfortable interacting with people. Most of my writer friends that I have are generally anti-social except when it's family and close friends. They find it easier to connect through social media, but they still go to bookstores, meet other people at writing conferences and stuff. All in all, I personally don't feel that it will ever fully be lost.

Shadow_Ferret
02-15-2016, 09:47 PM
Just a thought I had today as I glanced through various posts here and on other forums:

Are new writers at a disadvantage because of the internet, social media, smartphones, etc? I can't help but wonder when I see posts about characterization, and it seems that so many people who are adept at secondary interactions (via devices) have very little understanding of human beings. It's almost like they understand "LOL" but don't know the difference between a nervous laugh and a "I totally get it!" laugh. They don't understand facial expressions or body language, and they don't get motivation (they think characters always want something tangible). I just wonder if, as devices take over as methods of communication, we're losing our ability to interact on a primary level, or to learn about real human beings and not just a username on facebook. What could be the impact on writers and what they write, if they lose this "live" connection to others?

Just contemplating...

I've never learned how to read body language and that has nothing to do with the internet.

But I think you're giving devices far too much credit. It's not like people live in a cocoon and never see others. The majority of people go to school, have friends, know how to interact in real life long before they become electronic zombies.

Latina Bunny
02-15-2016, 09:54 PM
I've never learned how to read body language and that has nothing to do with the internet.

But I think you're giving devices far too much credit. It's not like people live in a cocoon and never see others. The majority of people go to school, have friends, know how to interact in real life long before they become electronic zombies.

Yeah, especially since some places have people put away their devices. ;)

But, yes, many people will be bound to talk to actual, live people at some point in their lives. (My sister is on autism spectrum, and she still likes to sometimes interact with friendly people face-to-face.)

shadowwalker
02-15-2016, 09:55 PM
I'm not condemning the internet or putting down those who otherwise wouldn't have a 'voice'. I've just been noticing that, particularly among younger writers, there doesn't seem to be as much understanding of human nature, of the complexities of human beings. Note - I'm talking specifically about writers here, not people in general. I've seen questions on various forums that indicate the writer has little or no understanding of the basic human personalities. Everything seems to be at "face value" - characters do bad things because they want wealth, for example. But the writer has no idea why they want that wealth. It's always "They're greedy". Well, no. There are many, many other reasons why someone wants wealth and/or power, but the writer has no clue, has never even considered those. They only seem to know personas, not people. Maybe it's just because they are young, but then again, maybe it's because they rely too much on devices. So that's basically what I wanted to discuss, is the impact of devices versus in-person as far as writers being able to connect with their characters.

lizmonster
02-15-2016, 10:05 PM
Are new writers at a disadvantage because of the internet, social media, smartphones, etc?

I don't think so, no.


I can't help but wonder when I see posts about characterization, and it seems that so many people who are adept at secondary interactions (via devices) have very little understanding of human beings. It's almost like they understand "LOL" but don't know the difference between a nervous laugh and a "I totally get it!" laugh. They don't understand facial expressions or body language, and they don't get motivation (they think characters always want something tangible).

I think it's far more likely that these people do just fine in the real world, but that being able to create characters in writing - which requires understanding the why of behavior, and not just the what - is not an easy thing for most people. I know a lot of people IRL who are kind and perceptive and wonderful, but who couldn't create a realistic fictional character to save their lives. It's a different way of looking at human interaction. Being unable to write character - or having to learn how to write character when you're starting out as a writer - does not, to me, imply some kind of human understanding deficit. It just comes easier to some people than others. (And yes, there are people who will never learn; but I don't think the iPhone is responsible for that.)


I just wonder if, as devices take over as methods of communication, we're losing our ability to interact on a primary level, or to learn about real human beings and not just a username on facebook. What could be the impact on writers and what they write, if they lose this "live" connection to others?

I've always felt more comfortable communicating with people in writing. At the same time, I'm pretty good with body language. (I despise telephones because, to me, they're the worst of both worlds: I can't take the time to think about what I'm going to say, and I can't see how the other person is responding to me.)

When I was in my 20s, I spent most of my time under a Sony Walkman. I heard most of the same things: You'll forget how to interact with people. You're avoiding human interaction. You're stunting your social growth. Why don't you want to participate in the human race? In reality, it gave me a socially acceptable way to ignore people in situations where dealing with them would have made me anxious. The Walkman was a far more isolating device, because there was no way to communicate with it at all - and I don't feel like it stunted my growth. I feel like it gave me freedom, because I could do things I might otherwise have avoided.

It's also probably worth noting that a few centuries ago, it wasn't uncommon for people to interact face-to-face primarily (or even exclusively) with members of their own household, and with the rest of the world via letters. Chat programs, email, and forums are fast, but written-only communication isn't a new thing.

emdash
02-15-2016, 10:07 PM
I could understand how communicating primarily via text could make someone's depiction of body language or their ear for dialogue less realistic, or contribute to 'talking heads' syndrome (not giving dialogue scenes a sense of place and movement). I know those are things I struggle with sometimes. As for "they don't get motivation (they think characters always want something tangible)"--wouldn't communicating in a less tangible way increase people's understanding of internal motivations? People are often far more candid about their feelings and experiences online where anonymity offers some protection. I also think that the internet gives people access to the perspective of basically every type of person, which can be helpful when depicting someone with different beliefs, interests, culture, etc. from you.

Of course, it's all a matter of balance. Someone who doesn't have much in-person interaction or people watch is obviously going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to depicting the first things I mentioned. However, I don't think this inherently is a fault of technology. Someone could spend most of their free time in their house reading print materials and always be daydreaming while out of the house (I'm guilty as charged many days), and still base their characterizations on the characters in books they read rather than their observations of people. I think that that's a main culprit of unrealistic or flat characterization, basing it on other characters rather than people. I also think that's why so much writing has the same stock body language descriptors. Again, guilty as charged when I'm not careful.

Now, I'm not saying technology can't contribute to this problem, I just don't think there's a direct correlation between using technology and not understanding how to write people. If anything, a balance between in-person socializing, people watching, and reading about various people's perspectives online seems best to me to get the whole picture. After all, this very website is a place writers use to connect. That said, all of this is just my pondering.

Hapax Legomenon
02-15-2016, 10:16 PM
It's strange because in my experience it's mostly older people who do not understand (or do not respect) body language.

The thing you're talking about I think is a different problem entirely. Probably a matter of thinking in cliches, which has always been a problem, but when you have places like AW where people can parrot the same cliches to each other much faster than writers in the past could probably reinforces them and puts a damper on original thought.

Kerosene
02-15-2016, 10:42 PM
Technology is just a tool, and there are people who are against direct human communication (consciously or unconsciously) in all age ranges.

I don't believe that technology is making the younger generation any less wise to the experiences of human life, but it's just another tool that enables them to be foolish. Instead of locking themselves away behind closed doors and staring at the T.V. or books like their parents would have done, they seek at least some outlet from their safety-zone through internet forums and video games. The difference nowadays is that there's permeable style of introversion through the internet being vocal about it instead of people being locked behind closed doors.

Latina Bunny
02-15-2016, 10:53 PM
Everything seems to be at "face value" - characters do bad things because they want wealth, for example. But the writer has no idea why they want that wealth. It's always "They're greedy". Well, no. There are many, many other reasons why someone wants wealth and/or power, but the writer has no clue, has never even considered those. They only seem to know personas, not people. Maybe it's just because they are young, but then again, maybe it's because they rely too much on devices. So that's basically what I wanted to discuss, is the impact of devices versus in-person as far as writers being able to connect with their characters.

Wait, so if I interact with human beings, I will automatically know how to write cruel characters?
And it's all the device's fault? What?

I do interact with living beings (usually humans seem to be nice and decent), and I still don't understand why some people, let alone the psychopaths/terrorists/child-killers, etc, do the things they do.

I would have to do additional research on such cruel people or research sociology and/or psychology, because I don't interact with lots of extremely cruel, dangerous people, like murderers or terrorists, on a daily basis. Maybe I would have to watch/read the news, but they don't always give deep details of the why (or mess up on the details of why) some people would go batshit and shoot up/blow up a place, or do cruel things...

Maybe rely on my own interactions with somewhat mean-ish people (though I wouldn't always know why someone is mean to someone else, of course)...

And you know, we still don't always know why some cruel people do the things they do, and blame mental illness, or argue about the motivations and how to prevent the next cruel act. (See various threads in the Politics and Current Events section).

Yes, I could understand maybe the basis of the cruel character's thinking, but that doesn't mean I would automatically know how to write it in a way that is subtle, but understandable to the readers. (Or write it in a way that would engage the readers' attention, and keep them reading.)

I think your concern has to deal with lack of critical thinking or research. Maybe a black and white way of thinking. Or relying on tropes or cliches or stereotypes.

jjdebenedictis
02-15-2016, 11:11 PM
You learn body language and facial expressions in infanthood, from your family right there in meatspace. Although I think it's possible to get rusty at those skills in adulthood due to too much time on the computer, no, I don't think we lose those skills.

If anything, we never had the articulateness to express those things. Putting words around the nuances of what the quirk of an eyebrow means has always been a struggle, because it's fundamentally non-verbal communication. If a writer has trouble doing that, I think it's because writers have always had trouble doing that, not because we've lost some fundamental skill.

lizo27
02-15-2016, 11:19 PM
The difference between knowing what people are like and knowing how to write about them is like the difference between knowing what a duck looks like and being able to draw one. It has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with learning a craft.

Toothpaste
02-15-2016, 11:37 PM
Is it just not possible that these newer writers don't have the tools yet to best express the nuances of human interactions?

Rhoda Nightingale
02-15-2016, 11:50 PM
I don't think inexperienced writers being, well, inexperienced has anything to do with anything except that they're inexperienced. Maybe one way technology ties into it is that it's easier than ever for an inexperienced writer to reach a wide audience--self publishing via Amazon and the like. Which isn't to say that self publishing via Amazon is inherently a bad thing! But I have met a lot of people just in my own immediate geographical circle who will jump into that rather than looking for a trade publisher/literary agent or going through workshops and stuff first.

In short: writers who aren't that good at characterization yet aren't really a new thing, they just have a bigger potential audience than they did when the Internet wasn't its own slush pile.

/two cents

Silva
02-15-2016, 11:55 PM
I'm not condemning the internet or putting down those who otherwise wouldn't have a 'voice'. I've just been noticing that, particularly among younger writers, there doesn't seem to be as much understanding of human nature, of the complexities of human beings. Note - I'm talking specifically about writers here, not people in general. I've seen questions on various forums that indicate the writer has little or no understanding of the basic human personalities. Everything seems to be at "face value" - characters do bad things because they want wealth, for example. But the writer has no idea why they want that wealth. It's always "They're greedy". Well, no. There are many, many other reasons why someone wants wealth and/or power, but the writer has no clue, has never even considered those. They only seem to know personas, not people. Maybe it's just because they are young, but then again, maybe it's because they rely too much on devices. So that's basically what I wanted to discuss, is the impact of devices versus in-person as far as writers being able to connect with their characters.

Hm. When you were their age (I assume you're a decade or two older than the young writers you're talking about), didn't you also have rather one-dimensional interpretations of certain kinds of people?

Roxxsmom
02-16-2016, 12:04 AM
Well, writers in general tend to be introverted. I remember being at writer's workshop and everyone in the room raising their hand when one of the speakers asked "Do you consider yourself to be an introvert?"

I don't think this is just because of the internet. Maybe writing appeals to people who feel like they can't express themselves really well in fast-paced moment to moment interactions, because they do better when they have a little time to think. Also, introverts are often great observers of what other people are doing. The wallflower at the party see what the popular kids are actually doing.

It's interesting to ponder whether today's wallflowers no longer sit in the corner watching everyone else but instead play with their phones, and so miss out on human interaction. I think these are similar questions to what previous generations of elders might have had about inventions like the telephone (with more conversations not being face to face, will people lose the ability to read faces), radio (with only the voice, will people lose the ability to observe the whole person), television (will kids spend more time watching the boob tube, will they be less social) and so on.

Maybe modern humans in general, including our own generations, are less astute at reading others than our ancestors were. Heck, even the written word may have started us down this path, since books allow people of an introverted nature to stay in the corner and read instead of people watching.

If so, this is just something we have to work with, and it's possibly something writers have always struggled with. Maybe our writing and media simply reflects the limitations placed on us by our technological upbringings and we don't even notice it (and haven't noticed it for centuries). But I think it's overstated to say that younger people don't socialize or interact with others at all. My students still come to class (and talk to one another face to face while they wait for the class to start), still go to various activities with their friends. There's actually some concern that the current generation of kids may have been forced into being too social with an excess of structured enrichment activities (that didn't leave them enough solitary "bored" time to foster creativity).

For me, the web has actually hooked me up with opportunities to engage in critique of my writing and to attend some writing workshops (in the flesh), things I never had any idea how to do back in the days before the internet. Back when I was younger, writing stories was a solitary activity for me. I never shared my writing with anyone (save one boyfriend in high school, and he hated my stories, so I stopped), and I had no idea how to go about getting feedback from other struggling writers or how to pursue publication. I will say that my own feelings about people and life in general was probably less sophisticated and "black and white" when I was younger, but I'd put that down to lack of experience.

I guess my boomerang question would be, do you encounter more new writers who don't know how to write body language and emotions now than 10 or 20 years ago? Do you think the types of questions that newbies ask on these forums have shifted greatly over the years AW has been around?

Maybe the best person to answer this question would be someone who has been teaching freshman creative writing courses at a college for decades.

Silva
02-16-2016, 12:08 AM
Devices (i.e., access to the internet) were actually a huge factor in exposing me to depth of character in real people that I wasn't exposed to as a child in my parent's rather anti-technology and anti-social home (it was always us vs. them with an emphasis on building a gap rather than bridging it). I accepted their (well, primarily my mom's) interpretation of the world and wasn't really the questioning type or much of a deep thinker until I was able to spend time with other people who were willing to call me out on the crap I was spouting. That occurred via the internet because I didn't (and still don't) full understand how to interact in the real world thanks to the way I was raised (which, again, was mostly device-less). I am, however, very good at reading body language (especially discomfort, anger, fear, embarrassment, etc.), though the ingrained responses aren't always the right ones.

I think the media through which we are used to hearing stories probably is more relevant. I would theorize that movies and news segments do not have the same ability to portray a multifaceted character that books do, and that many young people "these days" prefer the ease of consumption that movies create vs. books. However, when you narrow the subset from "young people" to "young writers" I think that dynamic would be less prevalent since writers are more likely to read more books.

Roxxsmom
02-16-2016, 12:22 AM
I have run into a few "black and white" thinkers on the web. I remember one guy on an internet forum making some pretty strong statements that "someone who would use magic to control another person would be evil, period" when the rest of us were having fun speculating about the more nuanced ways someone might justify such behavior in the context of a culture that takes magic like that for granted (no one was saying mind control was a good thing, just coming up with situations where someone who wasn't evil might justify it). I assumed he was a teenager, and was quite surprised to learn that he'd finished college already. He was, I believe, very religious. I remember running into people who thought like this when I was a student too, though back then they'd have been more likely to be telling us that we were evil for reading and writing about fictional magic.

It's also important to note that some of the other people in the conversation were also in their early to mid twenties, and they were having no issues with more nuanced thinking about motivations in this hypothetical situation.

As I said in my earlier post, my own way of looking at the world was probably less nuanced and more "all or nothing" when I was younger too. I never subscribed to absolutist thinking, but I probably wasn't as good at getting inside the skin of people who weren't somewhat like me when I was younger because I hadn't known and spoken to as many people who aren't like me yet.

Actually, the web is a resource that allows us to talk to people we might never meet face to face. We lose the ability to observe physical cues, but we do get to see how other people think and reason.

As a caution, I also want to say that you can't always take something a person says in a moment of frustration, or even the tack they take in a particular argument (on or off the web), as a reflection of their truest self either. It's possible that the fellow who freaked out about magical coercion, for instance, is perfectly capable of nuanced thinking about other issues, but this one just pushed his buttons in some way. Or maybe he was in a peculiar mood that day.

Claudia Gray
02-16-2016, 12:57 AM
I don't think younger people are any more cut off from human interaction than earlier generations were; in some ways, they're much more connected, because they can touch base with virtually all their friends at any given moment, are more likely to make friends that live outside their immediate geographical area, etc. Are they spending too much time staring at screens? Probably...but my generation did too. They were just TV screens instead of phones. Go all the way back in history and you'll find every single generation sure the next one has gone straight to ignorance and idiocy, because we all forget how ignorant we were, too, once upon a time.

And if you're trying to write younger characters in the present day (whether in YA or not) and you don't know how that kind of interaction works? That will show, and your character will ring false.

mccardey
02-16-2016, 01:09 AM
I remember reading (historically - I wasn't there) about this sort of concern when telephones first came in in England. Lots of letters to the editors about all the interpretive social skills and nuances that would be forever lost once the faces were gone from the language. It was a glorious article - also the lamentations that the existing social order would break down completely were great. Because it did, of course, but I'm not sure it was entirely the fault of the telephone.

Curlz
02-16-2016, 01:18 AM
Are new writers at a disadvantage because of the internet, social media, smartphones, etc? I can't help but wonder when I see posts about characterization.....


You say "new writers" but you actually mean "aspiring writers", which shifts the whole discussion elsewhere. New writers (those who grew up with technology but are capable enough to publish and sell and enjoy a wide audience) are doing fine with their understanding of human emotions/motivations/communications. The only difference technology makes is that now there are places for all those characterisation questions to get posted in public. Even before the arrival of Facebook, smartphones and internet, there were people who wanted to write but could not understand characterisations etc. Who was to blame then?

Fuchsia Groan
02-16-2016, 01:48 AM
I taught college literature courses around 1999 to 2003, when people were using the internet, but smartphones and social media essentially didn't exist. I had a fair number of students whose no-shades-of-gray thinking boggled me. They wanted everyone in books to be absolutely good or absolutely evil. Toni Morrison's promiscuous Sula, for instance, was not a woman experimenting with breaking social taboos and getting mixed results; in their view, she was simply a "whore," and no one they could ever relate to. Since classic 19th- and 20th-century literature is filled with anti-heroes, I had some trouble.

But there was usually a roughly equal number of students who grasped and appreciated the nuances, who were willing to give a "difficult" character some empathy. Those tended to be students who had done more past reading in a variety of genres, whatever their belief system. Older students also tended not to rush to judgment of fictional characters.

So I suspect this tends to have to do with youth and lack of reading/life experience, rather than electronics. (I've seen some pretty stunning nuances of characterization in fanfiction, which was birthed, lives, and thrives online.)

Like Silva, I've found that the internet expands my conceptions of human potential and my empathy for others rather than narrowing them. At the same time, it makes it easier for me to isolate myself and forget everything I know about face-to-face interaction, so I have to regulate my usage (not always with success, haha, which is why I'm here posting during a workday).

Roxxsmom
02-16-2016, 01:53 AM
And if you're trying to write younger characters in the present day (whether in YA or not) and you don't know how that kind of interaction works? That will show, and your character will ring false.

This is very true too.

Hapax Legomenon
02-16-2016, 02:07 AM
Woah there. Fan fiction may thrive online but it was in no way "birthed" there. It has a long and venerable history.

DancingMaenid
02-16-2016, 02:44 AM
You learn body language and facial expressions in infanthood, from your family right there in meatspace. Although I think it's possible to get rusty at those skills in adulthood due to too much time on the computer, no, I don't think we lose those skills.

If anything, we never had the articulateness to express those things. Putting words around the nuances of what the quirk of an eyebrow means has always been a struggle, because it's fundamentally non-verbal communication. If a writer has trouble doing that, I think it's because writers have always had trouble doing that, not because we've lost some fundamental skill.

This is exactly what I was going to say.

I think new writers have always struggled with portraying body language and natural-sounding speech. There's a difference between picking up on it in day-to-day life and being able to put it in words. That's why writing out accents/dialects can be so disastrous--our ear picks up on subtle differences in pronunciation, but when we try to mimic that in written form, it comes across as over-the-top and glaring.

Also, written speech differs from spoken speech. In real conversation, people pause, say things like "Um," contract words, etc. In writing, we have to make speech look natural without it really being natural.

aus10phile
02-16-2016, 03:08 AM
You know, I've actually been quite envious of younger writers who have access to all this technology for entirely different reasons. There are so many resources to help you learn the craft so that are so immediately accessible now. I was probably born about 10 years too early to have that benefit when I started getting serious about writing. It would have made my learning curve much much shorter I think.

About the original point with people skills... I'm not sure. I'm sure there are drawbacks, but I'm sort of optimistic that people are naturally social beings who still need real-life face-to-face time, and that will never go away. And if anything, the technology becomes a "safe" way for people to share more than they did before. (Hence the term "oversharing.") Sometimes I think it's not necessarily that the text conversation is replacing the real conversation... before cell phones the "real" conversation may not have happened at all, but the texting creates that "safer" opportunity where you can think about your words, etc.

Anyway, I think the reason why new writers struggle to portray people realistically is just because it's hard!

Jamesaritchie
02-16-2016, 03:48 AM
It's strange because in my experience it's mostly older people who do not understand (or do not respect) body language.

.

I think you're dead wrong on this. Older people may not respect your body language, but I'd ne willing to bet, and give good odds, that they know far more about it than the young. They even know enough to ignore it.

Jamesaritchie
02-16-2016, 04:02 AM
I do think the tech generation we have no are, on average, far less adept at social relations in person. They don't know how to separate their internet persona from their real life persona, and this causes problems. Disconnect is real. Very real, and anyone who watches you young closely will see a huge percentage that can't get off he internet, or can't stop texting, or can't stop reading e-mails, even when walking around in a group. They're at it constantly, talking to people who aren't there, and largely ignoring those who are.

I don't see this as a disadvantage in writing fiction, though. Fiction is about putting real life down in words, whatever that real life is. The only disadvantage I see in many of the young is the willingness to do anything outside of a cellphone. With the last four or five writing groups I've been to, more than have those wo attended never put down their cellphones at all. They glanced up at the speaker occasionally, but in talking to several of them afterward, they didn't hear anything he said.

It's serious enough that our schools now force students to leave cellphones turned off all day long, and cellphone use is a topic of conversation at every writer's group I attend.

This kind of use is not healthy, and I've lost count of how many I know who have lost jbs because of it.

But none of this means they can't write fiction as well as anyone, assuming they can put down the phone long enough.

And there is one up side. This generation is unbelievably easy to sneak up on. Well, this is only good if you're a pickpocket, a mugger, an armed robber, or a street preacher, but it's the only silver lining I can find.

Cobalt Jade
02-16-2016, 05:50 AM
I think you have to deal a lot with people of many different types before you gain a mastery of writing them and describing them. If cell phones and social media cut into your observation time, you're not going to get enough observations to write a convincing character.

blacbird
02-16-2016, 07:06 AM
One of the best ways to learn stuff about human reactions is to watch and listen to people talking on their cell phones. A lot of people totally forget about privacy when they're engaged in cell-phone conversation, anywhere.

caw

jjdebenedictis
02-16-2016, 08:15 AM
But there was usually a roughly equal number of students who grasped and appreciated the nuances, who were willing to give a "difficult" character some empathy. Those tended to be students who had done more past reading in a variety of genres, whatever their belief system. Older students also tended not to rush to judgment of fictional characters.There have been studies done that found that reading fiction increases the ability to understand other points of view and also increases the reader's comfort with ambiguity.

So science backs you up that there's a correlation between students who can handle ambiguity and empathize with difficult characters, and students who have spent more of their life reading fiction.

Lillith1991
02-16-2016, 08:29 AM
Hm. When you were their age (I assume you're a decade or two older than the young writers you're talking about), didn't you also have rather one-dimensional interpretations of certain kinds of people?

Not Shadowwalker, but as a young person I find this to be an unfair assumption. When I was 15 I could've told you in detail why people hate others. Age doesn't mean you don't understand why people do something, it may mean you can't exactly explain why they do it despite understanding. And it certainly doesn't account for the lack of understand of human interaction and motivation that Shadowwalker mentioned.

RedWombat
02-16-2016, 08:36 AM
Every technology ever has resulted in people lamenting about the youth being out of touch. It's one of the great constants of humanity. I'm positive that when someone scratched out the first cuneiform in mud in the city of Ur, their elders grumbled about how in their day, they had to talk face to face and remember ​things, and what was the world coming to?

Roxxsmom
02-16-2016, 08:37 AM
It's strange because in my experience it's mostly older people who do not understand (or do not respect) body language.

I'm guessing it's also a result of status privilege (with older people generally being of higher social status, or at least perceiving themselves to be). In social interactions, the person with the higher perceived status controls the interaction and is freer to ignore the social signals of the lower-ranking individual. They set the pace and degree of social interaction. A parent (or boss) can frown, impatiently flap their hand, and tell their child or employee, "Not now, I'm on the phone," but woe betide a kid or employee who tries that with their parent or boss.

Higher ranked individuals have the right to demand the attention and interaction of their social subordinates on their terms. This has changed somewhat in recent years (the whole stranger danger thing, and greater sensitivity about social signals and privilege blindness in workplaces), but when I was a kid, it was socially acceptable for elders to demand or force hugs, kisses etc. and decreased social distance, even with people who were sending every signal in their arsenal that they were uncomfortable with the situation. They did it with one another too, but they especially did it to and with kids and teens.

The thing I hated most about being a kid was the way adults could interrupt me at any time for any reason and demand that I switch gears, no matter what I was doing or how deeply engrossed I was in it.

There was a lot of policing of body language too. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!" or "Wipe that look off your face," or "Stand up straight" or "Smile!" or "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about" etc. Any expression of negative emotion or discomfort was discouraged, if not punished.

So some in my generation probably still go around imposing this on younger people. But I'm guessing that it's also something subsequent generations will continue to do to some extent when they're in positions of authority and higher status.

Hapax Legomenon
02-16-2016, 08:45 AM
I'm guessing it's also a result of status privilege (with older people generally being of higher social status, or at least perceiving themselves to be). In social interactions, the person with the higher perceived status controls the interaction and is freer to ignore the social signals of the lower-ranking individual. They set the pace and degree of social interaction. A parent (or boss) can frown, impatiently flap their hand, and tell their child or employee, "Not now, I'm on the phone," but woe betide a kid or employee who tries that with their parent or boss.

Higher ranked individuals have the right to demand the attention and interaction of their social subordinates on their terms. This has changed somewhat in recent years (the whole stranger danger thing, and greater sensitivity about social signals and privilege blindness in workplaces), but when I was a kid, it was socially acceptable for elders to demand or force hugs, kisses etc. and decreased social distance, even with people who were sending every signal in their arsenal that they were uncomfortable with the situation. They did it with one another too, but they especially did it to and with kids and teens.

The thing I hated most about being a kid was the way adults could interrupt me at any time for any reason and demand that I switch gears, no matter what I was doing or how deeply engrossed I was in it.

There was a lot of policing of body language too. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!" or "Wipe that look off your face," or "Stand up straight" or "Smile!" or "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about" etc. Any expression of negative emotion or discomfort was discouraged, if not punished.

So some in my generation probably still go around imposing this on younger people. But I'm guessing that it's also something subsequent generations will continue to do to some extent when they're in positions of authority and higher status.

Yep, exactly.

My dad was insisting to his friend a couple years ago that I must be autistic because I wouldn't look him in the eye. Never mind any possible other reason why someone might not look someone else in the eye -- I had to have a disorder that made my body language averse whenever he was around.

What's the point of body language if nobody will actually listen to it?

Silva
02-16-2016, 08:49 AM
I do think the tech generation we have no are, on average, far less adept at social relations in person. They don't know how to separate their internet persona from their real life persona, and this causes problems. Disconnect is real. Very real, and anyone who watches you young closely will see a huge percentage that can't get off he internet, or can't stop texting, or can't stop reading e-mails, even when walking around in a group. They're at it constantly, talking to people who aren't there, and largely ignoring those who are.

I don't see this as a disadvantage in writing fiction, though. Fiction is about putting real life down in words, whatever that real life is. The only disadvantage I see in many of the young is the willingness to do anything outside of a cellphone. With the last four or five writing groups I've been to, more than have those wo attended never put down their cellphones at all. They glanced up at the speaker occasionally, but in talking to several of them afterward, they didn't hear anything he said.

It's serious enough that our schools now force students to leave cellphones turned off all day long, and cellphone use is a topic of conversation at every writer's group I attend.

This kind of use is not healthy, and I've lost count of how many I know who have lost jbs because of it.

But none of this means they can't write fiction as well as anyone, assuming they can put down the phone long enough.

And there is one up side. This generation is unbelievably easy to sneak up on. Well, this is only good if you're a pickpocket, a mugger, an armed robber, or a street preacher, but it's the only silver lining I can find.

These sorts of anecdotes are confounding to me because they are so outside the realm of my experience. I don't see people wandering around with their nose in their phone. You'd get run over. Schools have had rules about turning off personal phones, beepers, etc., for as long as I can remember. No one at any job I have worked was ever fired for being on their phone, and the five years my husband spent at one place with a really high employee turnover, only one person was ever fired for being on her phone all the time. Am I missing something here?

Silva
02-16-2016, 09:06 AM
Not Shadowwalker, but as a young person I find this to be an unfair assumption. When I was 15 I could've told you in detail why people hate others. Age doesn't mean you don't understand why people do something, it may mean you can't exactly explain why they do it despite understanding. And it certainly doesn't account for the lack of understand of human interaction and motivation that Shadowwalker mentioned.

I'm not trying to say young people can't understand things. I'm saying that as a person gains more life experience, they gain more understanding. Don't you have a more nuanced understanding of many issues now than you did ten, twenty, years ago? Is there nothing that seemed black and white back then that now you can see to be more gray? Can you imagine adding another ten, twenty years of life experience? Wouldn't it be easy to look back and think that your old beliefs and assumptions were too one-dimensional compared to your current beliefs and worldview?

Maybe it's just me-- I certainly was raised in an isolated home with a very simplistic, black and white worldview-- but I've been led to believe that it's more common than not.

Roxxsmom
02-16-2016, 09:10 AM
These sorts of anecdotes are confounding to me because they are so outside the realm of my experience. I don't see people wandering around with their nose in their phone. You'd get run over.

Actually, some data suggest that "distracted walking" accidents have increased in the past decade (http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/news-and-resources-pedestrian-safety.aspx). And interestingly, this is one kind of accident that seems to involve women more than men (no idea if this means women text more while walking than men, or if they are worse at it. Either way, it would be interesting to know why).


Schools have had rules about turning off personal phones, beepers, etc., for as long as I can remember. No one at any job I have worked was ever fired for being on their phone, and the five years my husband spent at one place with a really high employee turnover, only one person was ever fired for being on her phone all the time. Am I missing something here?

At the college where I teach, it's been against campus rules to have cell phones turned on and out in class for at least a decade now, though we aren't allowed to make students surrender their phones before exams or anything. We also have a campus alert system that sends texts to everyone (who has registered their number) in case of an emergency. This is a bit strange when you think about it. If people are supposed have their phones turned off, how could they get the emergency alert texts?

Actually, I'd say the restriction on cell phone use in class is easing in the past couple years. Even though each classroom still has a sign advising students that phones must be off and away during class as per campus policy, we were recently informed by administration that we must include our rules about cell phone use in class on our syllabi.

I've noticed that some students have more trouble cutting the phone umbilicus than others. Some put them in their purses, pockets, or backpacks during class, for instance, while others like to have then sitting out in their laps or on their desks. The only time I'm really strict about phones being out is during exams, though I give them the hairy eyeball if their phone rings or buzzes during class.

I totally agree with the folks who are saying that elders have always sighed and shaken their heads about "kids these days," though. Somehow, each generation manages to adjust to the rapidly evolving social milieu, and our species chugs on.

Lillith1991
02-16-2016, 09:16 AM
I'm not trying to say young people can't understand things. I'm saying that as a person gains more life experience, they gain more understanding. Don't you have a more nuanced understanding of many issues now than you did ten, twenty, years ago? Is there nothing that seemed black and white back then that now you can see to be more gray? Can you imagine adding another ten, twenty years of life experience? Wouldn't it be easy to look back and think that your old beliefs and assumptions were too one-dimensional compared to your current beliefs and worldview?

Maybe it's just me-- I certainly was raised in an isolated home with a very simplistic, black and white worldview-- but I've been led to believe that it's more common than not.

Not really, no. I've grown in other ways, but I've only added to my understand of why someone does something in the last decade and I didn't add a lot even then. I was a pretty selfaware kid and I'm still selfaware and aware of why others do something. How much deeper understanding people add is proportionate to both what they're willing to add and where they start out, and I was ahead of the curve. My writing needed to catch up, not my understanding of the human condition.

shadowwalker
02-16-2016, 09:22 AM
Sorry, been at work so I couldn't respond earlier. But I'd like to clarify that I'm not talking about young people not socially interacting in person, or their ability to do so. I'm trying to figure out if the number of devices that people are so attached to could be a reason that so many new writers (not necessarily young but probably for the most part) have trouble understanding how people work, and that's why so many seemingly basic questions get asked about charcterization.

As to my age and understanding when I was younger, I think I had a pretty good grip on that. I get along with such a variety of people, from farmers to blue collar workers to professionals to business owners to business executives - all because I've learned to pay attention to how they act and talk with other people, not just with me. Online, on the phone - whole 'nother story. I'm seeing only what they want me to see, what they put online. It's not the whole picture - and frankly, if that was most of my "interpersonal" experience, I'd probably be just as bewildered about "why would they do that?" with my characters.

As to television and telephones - the difference, now, is that we aren't stuck in our houses to use them. We have all these devices and, as James noted, people (of all ages) seem unable to function without the things, no matter where they are or who they're with. Hell, people can't even put them down when they're driving.

And yes, I have seen an increase in these types of characterization questions, at least enough so I've noticed it. They aren't so much problems reconciling a plot move with the character, for example (he just wouldn't do that, but I have to figure out how to make him!), as much as questions about basic human psychology.

I'm not trying to go anti-technology or "kids nowadays". I'm just trying to figure out why so many new writers are so confused about these basic things, and why it seems to be increasingly so.

mccardey
02-16-2016, 09:25 AM
Not really, no. I've grown in other ways, but I've only added to my understand of why someone does something in the last decade and I didn't add a lot even then. I was a pretty selfaware kid and I'm still selfaware and aware of why others do something. How much deeper understanding people add is proportionate to both what they're willing to add and where they start out, and I was ahead of the curve. My writing needed to catch up, not my understanding of the human condition.

But it's not about being self-aware, is it? It's about being other-aware. I'd be surprised if a five-year-old understood the nuances of Why Daddy Is Cranky as well as a ten-year-old would, and I think that same child grown to forty would have an even richer understanding. Not to say five-year-olds can't be empathic or analytical or intuitive or anything else - just that understanding grows more specific along with the information we learn. It does change - at least, it should.

Albedo
02-16-2016, 09:40 AM
I am posting this at work, on my phone, so take that as you will.

I can understand to a point the idea that greater age brings greater wisdom. But then, how do you explain the popularity of talk radio amongst the olds? Cf: Fox News, factually suspect Facebook memes, Tony Abbott? Like, is there a Peak Wisdom in your 50s or so, beyond which it's all a downhill slide? Or is it possible that there exist all levels of worldly understanding at all ages, wise young people turn into wise old people, and less wise young people turn into people who share Onion articles as if they're real?

jjdebenedictis
02-16-2016, 09:43 AM
These sorts of anecdotes are confounding to me because they are so outside the realm of my experience. I don't see people wandering around with their nose in their phone. You'd get run over. Schools have had rules about turning off personal phones, beepers, etc., for as long as I can remember. No one at any job I have worked was ever fired for being on their phone, and the five years my husband spent at one place with a really high employee turnover, only one person was ever fired for being on her phone all the time. Am I missing something here?Yeah, this. My students are amazingly polite about their phone use. If their cell rings during the period (and it usually doesn't), they dive on it like it's a live grenade, then either send the caller to voicemail, answer their phone with a quickly-whispered, "I'm in class, can I call you back?", or they get up and zoom out of the room to take the call.

I have never once had a student be a jerk about using their phone. Not even once.

mccardey
02-16-2016, 09:53 AM
I am posting this at work, on my phone, so take that as you will.

I can understand to a point the idea that greater age brings greater wisdom. But then, how do you explain the popularity of talk radio amongst the olds? Cf: Fox News, factually suspect Facebook memes, Tony Abbott? Like, is there a Peak Wisdom in your 50s or so, beyond which it's all a downhill slide? Or is it possible that there exist all levels of worldly understanding at all ages, wise young people turn into wise old people, and less wise young people turn into people who share Onion articles as if they're real?


The latter, I expect - but not solely. Wise young people can probably turn into blazing old bigots and vice versa. I'm not an expert on that. And I'm not really talking about wisdom - or intelligence either. I'm just saying that the longer one spends immersed in anything (a sport, a book, a conversation, a society, a life) the more one will (or should) be learning about it - if only through osmosis.

Roxxsmom
02-16-2016, 09:55 AM
I'm trying to figure out if the number of devices that people are so attached to could be a reason that so many new writers (not necessarily young but probably for the most part) have trouble understanding how people work, and that's why so many seemingly basic questions get asked about charcterization.

I haven't been on AW long enough to be able to say with any confidence that these questions really get asked more than they did a few years ago on AW. Memory can be selective, though I suppose we could all use the google function and see how many threads of this kind turned up way back when.

One thing to consider also is that sometimes people will ask seemingly basic questions on a forum to get the ball rolling or to break the ice. The person in question may not really wonder what makes someone evil (say) or what motivates someone to commit a crime or join the army or whatever, but they're curious about what other people think. Or they're engaging in consensus seeking behavior, or looking for an opening to discuss something that's bothering them. Or maybe they have an idea, but they lack confidence in their own ability to turn it into a story people would want to read.

And sometimes they're just starting a thread they think will be good for getting them closer to the fifty posts they need to post a story in share your work. :cool:

It's possible there are people with less self confidence on the web not, or people who are more comfortable discussing these deeply philosophical things in a writing forum. We also don't know the ages of the people doing the asking sometimes. Has the average age of AW users increased or decreased in the past 5 years or so? What if it's actually older members asking these questions.

In fact, I've run across a number of people who are older than I am who are inclined towards simplistic "black and white" thinking about things. My mom often would answer my questions about why people did dreadful things by saying, "Because they're sick," or "Because they're evil," for instance. And I know plenty of people my age who do the same thing.


I'm seeing only what they want me to see, what they put online. It's not the whole picture - and frankly, if that was most of my "interpersonal" experience, I'd probably be just as bewildered about "why would they do that?" with my characters.

An interesting thought. But I'm guessing that most young people know about online personas and the way the person you see on line may just be the tip of the iceberg. After all, they're doing the same thing at their end.


As to television and telephones - the difference, now, is that we aren't stuck in our houses to use them. We have all these devices and, as James noted, people (of all ages) seem unable to function without the things, no matter where they are or who they're with. Hell, people can't even put them down when they're driving.

It's definitely people of all ages. Some of the worse offenders I've noted are women (and occasionally men) my age, or slightly younger, who have a desperate need to be in touch with their kids at all time. I agree that the need (and requirement) to be connected at all times changes things. I'm eternally grateful that I have a job where I'm not expected to be reachable 24-7, and I still enjoy being just in my head sometimes. I sometimes wonder (as I sit at family dinners where all my young nieces are playing on their tablets or hand held gaming thingies while the grown ups talk) what the presence of constant entertainment will do to creativity and frustration tolerance. When I was a kid I had to daydream or fight with my brother when I was bored at family get togethers.

They still find time to fight with their sisters though :greenie


They aren't so much problems reconciling a plot move with the character, for example (he just wouldn't do that, but I have to figure out how to make him!), as much as questions about basic human psychology.

It's also possibly a consequence of schools not focusing so much on the social sciences these days (since the big focus has been on English and math). History and psychology classes certainly gave me some insights and perspectives about human nature to mesh with my personal experiences. I grew up knowing about the Milgram study (we watched a movie about it in social studies class) and many psychological concepts were part of mainstream culture back then (the Jungian shadow, Feud's id, ego, and superego, concepts like cognitive dissonance). And we spent a lot of time on logical fallacies and ethics in my high school English classes. We even had a unit on civil disobedience and went through Kohlberg's levels of moral development (https://omgitsjez.wordpress.com/category/kohbergs-stages-of-moral-development/) in my senior English class (it was honors and AP level, so it might have not been standard for all my peers).

I don't know how often kids learn about these things before college now (and then only if classes exploring these things are part of their major).

Lillith1991
02-16-2016, 10:19 AM
But it's not about being self-aware, is it? It's about being other-aware. I'd be surprised if a five-year-old understood the nuances of Why Daddy Is Cranky as well as a ten-year-old would, and I think that same child grown to forty would have an even richer understanding. Not to say five-year-olds can't be empathic or analytical or intuitive or anything else - just that understanding grows more specific along with the information we learn. It does change - at least, it should.

They're two sides of the same coin, actually. And I would hope that we're not comparing a child who is just starting the process of learning they're the same thing to adults and teens who should by all rights be much further along than said 5 year olds. In order to understand others we first need to understand ourselves, but we don't always do so. A lot of people both young and older seem to be experiencing a disconnect between the two halves of the coin. This translates into their questions on how to write a psychopath or a villain protagonist or whatever, because they can't imagine what they would do or why they would do it.

RightHoJeeves
02-16-2016, 10:30 AM
These sorts of anecdotes are confounding to me because they are so outside the realm of my experience. I don't see people wandering around with their nose in their phone. You'd get run over. Schools have had rules about turning off personal phones, beepers, etc., for as long as I can remember. No one at any job I have worked was ever fired for being on their phone, and the five years my husband spent at one place with a really high employee turnover, only one person was ever fired for being on her phone all the time. Am I missing something here?

Ha, agreed. I always think its weird when people say that everyone on the train/bus is on their phone, ignoring other people. Why is that different from reading a book or reading the paper? And really, is it so weird that strangers don't want to talk to each other on the train?

Roxxsmom
02-16-2016, 10:45 AM
Humans always find ways to politely disengage in situations that force them to be in closer proximity than is the norm for their culture. In short term situations, like crowded elevators, people look up at the numbers above the door. In public transit, people would read, listen to music, chat with their companions, if they have one (though if it's really crowded, this is often shut down), and now they look at their phones.

I've noticed in social situations, people will tend to reflexively get their phones out when there's a lul in the conversation, or if they want to take the pressure off another person. I noticed this at a group luncheon a while back. A bunch of people who knew one another slightly (but some knew certain people better than others) were sitting at a table. Some people would be talking, but some people would be sort of stuck between two conversations or feeling like a third wheel, or sometimes someone said something that didn't get the expected or desired response. When that happened, the phones would come out.

I think they're kind of a displacement behavior sometimes, like the grooming behavior in rats.

I haven't been single since cell phones have been a thing, but I suddenly find myself wondering if people get their phones out when an attempt at flirtation or unsuccessful approach of an attractive someone occurs.

Sunflowerrei
02-16-2016, 10:47 AM
I can't say for certain if technology has made disconnection a problem for writers. For me, it's done me a world of good--I have social anxiety and I'm an introvert, so while I'm okay interacting face-to-face (I work retail, so I've actually gotten better), I prefer written communication. I text, but I like email better. I tweet, but I like my blog better. My cell phone is perpetually on silent because I hate hearing it ring, but I usually read Twitter links or blog posts on it. For the record, I'm 30, so I'm one of the first generations to have had computers since we were young and to see digital this and that come through, iPods, and cell phones. I notice that some people younger than me are far more attached to their phones than I am, but I wouldn't say they're on it all the time to the detriment of everything else.

And every time I've been in a theater and a cell phone goes off, it's a middle-aged person.

But as a younger writer, I'd say that while I'd read a lot, I read pretty narrowly genre-wise. I had intuition and a good knack for dialogue (love writing dialogue) and I love coming up with characters, but they weren't original, they were based on my friends at first. I had this perpetual urge to write every little twitch and raise of an eyebrow down in stories because that's what I was seeing in movies and TV.

I didn't always understand other humans and less so fictional humans, sometimes. Recognizing ambiguity in real life and fiction are different things and sometimes, they don't come to people at all. Writing ambiguity or motivation is a completely different thing, too.

This was back in college and might have been why my characters were so flat or definitely based on friends. But you know, I've grown up, I've met more people, I've read a ton of stuff on the Internet that's given me different insights into things I never would have come across otherwise.

mccardey
02-16-2016, 10:51 AM
They're two sides of the same coin, actually. <<snip>> In order to understand others we first need to understand ourselves, but we don't always do so.

yes, that's fair enough. And I missed this bit


Age doesn't mean you don't understand why people do something, it may mean you can't exactly explain why they do it despite understanding.

Which is perfectly true.

buz
02-16-2016, 03:57 PM
Sorry, been at work so I couldn't respond earlier. But I'd like to clarify that I'm not talking about young people not socially interacting in person, or their ability to do so. I'm trying to figure out if the number of devices that people are so attached to could be a reason that so many new writers (not necessarily young but probably for the most part) have trouble understanding how people work, and that's why so many seemingly basic questions get asked about charcterization.

But understanding how people work is not just about watching them and talking to them directly, face-to-face. I'd rather think I'd be more limited if I isolated my knowledge of human experience to my direct environs and the people in them. Reading about, or accounts by, or watching footage of, or being told indirectly about other humans who are in different parts of the world or may be long dead is, I think, a huge part of this. Spreading the net of interaction on the internet as well as accessing all sorts of written and visual information about human cultures past and present, near and far, real and fictional, is not inconsequential. In this, at least in my personal anecdotal experience, I find there is no age commonality as far as exposure. I have met plenty of intelligent young people and ignorant old people and vice versa, and everything in between.


As to my age and understanding when I was younger, I think I had a pretty good grip on that. I get along with such a variety of people, from farmers to blue collar workers to professionals to business owners to business executives - all because I've learned to pay attention to how they act and talk with other people, not just with me. Online, on the phone - whole 'nother story. I'm seeing only what they want me to see, what they put online. It's not the whole picture - and frankly, if that was most of my "interpersonal" experience, I'd probably be just as bewildered about "why would they do that?" with my characters.

But being on the phone or the internet doesn't exclude other interpersonal experiences, and reading text about other people's experiences can be informative in more ways than listening. People expose different parts of themselves all the time depending on what they want you to see, not just on the internet. Which parts of yourself you show depend on social context. I hide quite a lot of myself out there in the real world because the blander and quieter I am the easier it is to get along with people. If they think me strange, I take a gamble on how easy things are in the workplace, with my family, etc.


And yes, I have seen an increase in these types of characterization questions, at least enough so I've noticed it. They aren't so much problems reconciling a plot move with the character, for example (he just wouldn't do that, but I have to figure out how to make him!), as much as questions about basic human psychology.

Maybe the questions are coming of an increasing understanding that basic human psychology isn't always a constant and there is wider variation than we previously realized. I don't know. With more information comes more variables and more uncertainty, I find.


I'm not trying to go anti-technology or "kids nowadays". I'm just trying to figure out why so many new writers are so confused about these basic things, and why it seems to be increasingly so.

Well, new writers are new, too. It's hard to write. :D

If it is increasing, there could be a number of reasons. Could be the above--access to more information actually causes more uncertainty rather than less. I find that learning is as much about unlearning what I thought I knew as taking in new information.

Could be the more recent above--just newness to the craft, and more new people flooding in. Population expansion, widespread literacy, the speed of typing, the ease of access to information on writing itself, the ability to put your writing on the internet alone; the access to storytelling itself becoming overwhelming; more writers, more outlets of expression, more media, more of everything. More questions. :)

Could be a false impression.

Could be that people are more willing to question their own notions.

I don't know, but my feeling is that understanding or not understanding how humans work is not a thing governed solely by how much we talk to people face-to-face, but our own exposure and the way we as individuals process everything input into our senses. That exposure is varied. Exposure includes the internet, books, movies, documentaries, lectures, seeing artifacts, reading tweets, going new places, talking to new people, hearing new stories, and probably more things than I can even think of. And how we interpret those things is as much a part of our understanding as the exposure itself.

Just IMO, of course. :D

Hapax Legomenon
02-16-2016, 05:02 PM
Huh. Not going to lie, in college courses I was pretty dang distracted by my phone... but me being distracted during class was definitely not anything new. During high school classes where phone rules were really strict, I'd write, draw, and even sleep during class, but I didn't use my phone. I wonder if it's not that students are more distracted or if it's just a lot easier to tell when someone's on their phone than if their lecture notes are secretly Draco/Harry fanfiction.

Chris P
02-16-2016, 05:30 PM
Sorry, been at work so I couldn't respond earlier. But I'd like to clarify that I'm not talking about young people not socially interacting in person, or their ability to do so. I'm trying to figure out if the number of devices that people are so attached to could be a reason that so many new writers (not necessarily young but probably for the most part) have trouble understanding how people work, and that's why so many seemingly basic questions get asked about charcterization.

The irony of your observation is that new writers have always had this trouble, but with the internet it can now be discussed on internet forums frequented by thousands of people so we're more aware of it. In the past it was limited to book circles of maybe a dozen and writer's magazines where articles and letters to the editor are vetted prior to publication. Any question too basic for the magazine's readership would likely not be printed. Places like AW, no question is too basic and unless it violate the site's rules gets posted and discussed.


I'm seeing only what they want me to see, what they put online.

You're assuming everyone has a filter and only puts online what they want you to see. The ease of putting stuff out causes a trend where rougher, less thought out, and more extemporaneous material gets online, particularly in interpersonal relationships. Many would cheer the invention of a "recall" button on emails and texts.


I'm not trying to go anti-technology or "kids nowadays". I'm just trying to figure out why so many new writers are so confused about these basic things, and why it seems to be increasingly so.

If new writers are indeed more confused about interpersonal relationships, I think it has more to do with a general drawing inward as a culture. Every community organization I get involved with complains about declining membership. A parent's social life revolves around the kids' activities rather than community. People just don't joins stuff anymore. We choose to use the devices mainly because they allow us to be connected to others while doing our own thing. Facebook wouldn't have a billion users if you didn't connect to people more easily than writing them letters or calling on the phone.

blacbird
02-16-2016, 11:52 PM
I think it has more to do with a general drawing inward as a culture. Every community organization I get involved with complains about declining membership. A parent's social life revolves around the kids' activities rather than community. People just don't joins stuff anymore.

This is true, and an astute observation. As just one example, I served on a jury last summer, and our jury break room overlooked a restaurant that, some years back, had taken over the local Elks Club lodge building. I made a casual remark about that, and another guy on the jury said he had been a member of the Elks, but declining membership simply cause the group to fold. It used to be a kind of family thing, where children followed parents into groups like these, but that just isn't happening any longer. I suspect this is a widespread phenomenon over a lot of varied social organizations.

Mr. Zuckerberg's club seems to be the exception.

caw

dondomat
02-17-2016, 01:47 PM
I took the tube the other day and looked at everyone sitting or standing staring into their phones, and it was great. Finally a socially acceptable way of "not being here". Some people are able to handle being "in the moment", "fully present", but a lot, perhaps the vast majority, can't handle it, and now they have this outlet, this crutch, which helps them NOT be fully present.

I think this really lowers the general vibe of anxiety in social situations now. People who had to constantly keep themselves from "doing something stupid", or feeling "OMG everybody is looking at me", or having to go through the day muffled in some substance-based way, now have the opportunity to simply switch on the "I'm not here" signal by staring at their phone, and keep broadcasting that signal as long as needed.

Concerning the human condition--I've always had the intuition of a brick, and first had to read a description in a psychological textbook, or in a realist novel, before realizing that said behavior exists and has this and this function, and has been around me all along. So it gets added to my database and now the perceptive filter recognizes it.

Some of us exist in a pretty strong cocoon that filters the world to this extent, and we have to cerebrally recognize something before the filter starts showing it. So just watching people or myself is not enough in my case. It has to be supplemented with constant relentless reading of anything from Malinowski and Foucault to Raymond Chandler and Len Deighton, for a synthesis to happen and the new knowledge and perception possibilities to be added to my Self's systems.

In short, my advice would always be read more, read more, read more. Read more.

Roxxsmom
02-17-2016, 02:20 PM
I think the move away from deep involvement in one's community started even before we had devices and the internet.

When I lived in a small town a few years back, most of the houses on my street were old. They had front porches, but no one sat on them the way they once did. I'm guessing there are two reasons for this: air conditioning, which made it more comfortable inside on those long, summer evenings, and television (which gave them something to do besides sit on the porch, sweating and swatting at bugs while gossiping with the neighbors).

And of course, America has become increasingly urbanized and suburbanized. Communities are increasingly built around the automobile.

Cell phones are just the latest in a long string of inventions that serve to isolate, even as they also pack us in like sardines. Blame cities, the telephone, electricity, radio, air conditioning, television and cars (and communities built and planned around cars) for isolating people. The internet and cell phones are just the latest in the long string of technological changes that make it easier for people to isolate themselves from their neighbors and to be highly selective about whom they interact with.

Hapax Legomenon
02-17-2016, 05:02 PM
I've heard part of it is that the parents of millenials decided to revolve their social lives around their children's activities, so once those millenials grow up and either decide to not have kids or to hold off on having kids, there's nothing left for them to do.

A lot of people I know don't seem to do much after work. A lot of people I know seem too exhausted to do much -- but then I think I know a higher than average proportion of people with depression/anxiety disorders/on the autism spectrum.

ironmikezero
02-17-2016, 09:44 PM
There are also those who savor and protect their privacy who elect not to "connect" (as referenced in this thread). Respect for one another's boundaries and the courtesy of forgoing intrusion or involvement without invitation has always been (IMHO) the hallmark of a polite society.

KTC
02-17-2016, 09:56 PM
I think some of the questions asked in Basic Writing Questions are rudimentary at best. At times the questions make me flinch, they seem so basic. It feels like any writer should know the answer just intuitively.

BUT


The internet wasn't around for me to ask these questions. I got here having already learned the answers. Maybe the learning curve has changed...and people are just asking the web hivemind questions that they would have figured out for themselves if they only stopped to think about it. Or through research or reading or trial and error. Maybe I'm wrong...but it seems to me that the more basic questions being asked would have been volleyed around internally in a previous generation. I don't think people aren't connecting or figuring it out. I just think the path of learning is different...and at times I suppose throwing a question onto the interwebz is quicker than thinking about it and coming up with your own answer.

KTC
02-17-2016, 10:04 PM
As far as connecting goes, I can't even figure that one out. I feel more connected by devices and I mean emotionally, and in a very real way. I don't think we have to worry about emotional connection dying out with the advent of technology. There is definitely a laziness factor in having everything at your fingertips...but connections are real. I don't believe that in person face to face time will ever go out of style. But I depend on my day to day connection through my smartphone with the ones I love. And the ones I merely tolerate. My kids know the nuances of laughter and tears far beyond the confines of the device-age they live in.

AW Admin
02-17-2016, 10:10 PM
(I've seen some pretty stunning nuances of characterization in fanfiction, which was birthed, lives, and thrives online.)

I have too, but fanfic, even if you don't accept things like medieval Arthurian lit as fanfic, or the continuations of Chaucer's tales by other writers, Star Trek fan fic was probably the first widely known and recognized phenomena of fan fic, and it thrived during the late sixties, before the show was cancelled (and it's still thriving!).

There are printed fanzines of Trek and Who and SWars and Darkover and Pern and and that go back decades. And popular books about fanfic and academic studies.

It's not new, and not derived from the 'net; it just thrives there.

In terms of the greater issue of connection—I grew up in very rural N.H., on a dirt road.

The U.S. mail was my primary connection to the outside world; the phone was expensive, outside of the local calling area, I couldn't drive, town was thirty minutes away on a sunny day, so I wrote letters to friends I'd never met.

And I met my partner and some of my dearest friends (going all the way back to 1989) on the 'net.

And there are several couples who met via AW.

blacbird
02-17-2016, 11:30 PM
I took the tube the other day and looked at everyone sitting or standing staring into their phones, and it was great. Finally a socially acceptable way of "not being here". Some people are able to handle being "in the moment", "fully present", but a lot, perhaps the vast majority, can't handle it, and now they have this outlet, this crutch, which helps them NOT be fully present.

Waaaay too many of them choose this crutch to help them NOT be fully present while they're driving a car. Waaaay too many times they succeed, and help other drivers, passengers and pedestrians NOT be fully present ever again.

caw

KTC
02-17-2016, 11:45 PM
I took the tube the other day and looked at everyone sitting or standing staring into their phones, and it was great. Finally a socially acceptable way of "not being here". Some people are able to handle being "in the moment", "fully present", but a lot, perhaps the vast majority, can't handle it, and now they have this outlet, this crutch, which helps them NOT be fully present.



Wait. What? So I'm supposed to interact with strangers on the subway? I've seen people urinate, light suitcases on fire, pick their noses, sing a cappella horribly, make and eat a sandwich, change their clothes, etc, etc, etc. These are strangers. These are the best and the worst of society.

My face is in my phone on the subway. Because I'm reading the latest novel. Would you judge anyone less if their face was in an actual paperback novel?

I'm present when I'm reading.

LindaJeanne
02-18-2016, 01:21 AM
I'm trying to figure out if the number of devices that people are so attached to could be a reason that so many new writers (not necessarily young but probably for the most part) have trouble understanding how people work, and that's why so many seemingly basic questions get asked about charcterization.

I doubt there were any fewer "seemingly basic questions" about characterization twenty years ago, there just wasn't the venue for them that there is now, so we never saw them.

I think it's just are perspective of being able to see the things we couldn't see before, now that it's all online, rather than people being different now than back then.

Lillith1991
02-18-2016, 01:43 AM
I think some of the questions asked in Basic Writing Questions are rudimentary at best. At times the questions make me flinch, they seem so basic. It feels like any writer should know the answer just intuitively.

BUT


The internet wasn't around for me to ask these questions. I got here having already learned the answers. Maybe the learning curve has changed...and people are just asking the web hivemind questions that they would have figured out for themselves if they only stopped to think about it. Or through research or reading or trial and error. Maybe I'm wrong...but it seems to me that the more basic questions being asked would have been volleyed around internally in a previous generation. I don't think people aren't connecting or figuring it out. I just think the path of learning is different...and at times I suppose throwing a question onto the interwebz is quicker than thinking about it and coming up with your own answer.




I don't think it's the presence of the internet making people ask these easily answered by quick research questions. Not all by itself. There's a certain amount of entitlment and laziness that comes from knowing you can just ask someone instead of looking it up yourself.

Me? When I decided to write I just went and looked up theory on viewpoints, novel wordcount, the length of shorts and novellas etc. I didn't want to wait for anyone to tell me what the answers were or link me to them. I wanted to know and wanted to know now.

BenPanced
02-18-2016, 03:34 AM
I took the tube the other day and looked at everyone sitting or standing staring into their phones, and it was great. Finally a socially acceptable way of "not being here". Some people are able to handle being "in the moment", "fully present", but a lot, perhaps the vast majority, can't handle it, and now they have this outlet, this crutch, which helps them NOT be fully present.

Frankly, I don't want to interact with people in public, especially on public transport. Unless it's on my terms, people around me can just piss off.

Would you say this if I were reading a "real" book, one made of paper? Or is this disdain reserved specifically for those of us who are more interested in reading Facebook on our phones, which I do for most of the ride to and from work if I'm not reading my Barnes & Noble nook, which is another piece of electronics which is obviously designed to bring about the full destruction of human interaction as we know it?

The best thing about public transit is everybody can use it. The problem is everybody does.

jjdebenedictis
02-18-2016, 03:42 AM
I took the tube the other day and looked at everyone sitting or standing staring into their phones, and it was great. Finally a socially acceptable way of "not being here". Some people are able to handle being "in the moment", "fully present", but a lot, perhaps the vast majority, can't handle it, and now they have this outlet, this crutch, which helps them NOT be fully present.


http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/isolation.png

shadowwalker
02-18-2016, 08:52 AM
Just to note: I wasn't talking about the change over decades - just over the last few years (I might even say over the last couple of years). So, recent phenomena :)

mccardey
02-18-2016, 08:54 AM
Just to note: I wasn't talking about the change over decades - just over the last few years (I might even say over the last couple of years). So, recent phenomena :)

Is it just the last few years since you've been on AW? Because that might be what's changed - that there's a platform where you hear these sorts of questions (which are, I think, often no more than thinking out loud.)

SomethingOrOther
02-18-2016, 09:15 AM
The internet is a big boost to human interaction, if only because of Tinder. :tongue


You know, I've actually been quite envious of younger writers who have access to all this technology for entirely different reasons. There are so many resources to help you learn the craft so that are so immediately accessible now. I was probably born about 10 years too early to have that benefit when I started getting serious about writing. It would have made my learning curve much much shorter I think.


I've come to realize that nearly everything I've learned about writing from the internet is of questionable value. I guess that has value in itself, though.

Roxxsmom
02-18-2016, 09:17 AM
I think a lot of the basic questions people ask in writing forums, the ones that come up over and over again and run in waves, are intended to be conversation starters. Sometimes people ask them as a way of connecting, because they really want to know what others think, not because they have no idea at all about the best way to write an evil person.

Or maybe they just want approval for asking a "deep" question, or are trying to get their post count up. AW gets these now and again. Starting thread after thread that asked kind of inane questions but not really engaging, and they got called out for trying to race to 50.

I don't think folks who crop up with simplistic or all-or-none world views are all Millennials, though. I've run across plenty of black-and-white world views in folks of my own generation, and in my parents'. Actually, I think that sort of thing was very common back in the old days. Certain things were just wrong or not nice period. If people did certain things, they were bad. And certain things were wrong just because.

I don't know that the number of people who exhibit this kind of thinking has changed with the internet necessarily. But it may be the issues that are widely regarded as signs of a unilaterally bad character have shifted, at least in some circles. It's also possible the internet just means we run into them more, either because it attracts them, or because we encounter and interact with more people each day than we did pre-internet era.

mccardey
02-18-2016, 09:19 AM
Sometimes people ask them as a way of connecting, because they really want to know what others think, not because they have no idea at all This is what I've always assumed.

Cramp
02-18-2016, 03:10 PM
It's no use speculating on the cause of the problem until it can be determined there is actually a problem.

Personally, I think the combination of faulty human perception and memory is more convincing than a very tempting narrative that hits a lot of the bugbears of "Things are getting worse!", "Technology is changing things for the worse!", "Young people!"

Lillith1991
02-18-2016, 04:52 PM
It's no use speculating on the cause of the problem until it can be determined there is actually a problem.

Personally, I think the combination of faulty human perception and memory is more convincing than a very tempting narrative that hits a lot of the bugbears of "Things are getting worse!", "Technology is changing things for the worse!", "Young people!"

I think you can definitely see a problem. For example, someone asking novel wordcount is actually much more basic than asking if others have used a particular style of writing or not. Or even what they think. One is extremely lazy despite the good intentions of the asker because most people, young and old, have had to google things before and can do a cursory search.

Cramp
02-19-2016, 01:21 AM
The onus is to demonstrate that this is actually happening more.

shivadyne
02-19-2016, 11:41 AM
i don't think being on the internet stops people from understanding each other when it comes to body language or social cues.

i mean, i don't really get all of those social cues, but i can still write characters that do understand them and rely on them to get through a conversation. even when a lot of my conversations are on the internet, i'm still going to be interacting with people outside of it and i'll be just as capable of using that in my writing as someone who doesn't use their laptop.

i don't think people are losing connections with the internet. if anything, a lot of us are gaining even more of them.

Lillith1991
02-19-2016, 12:31 PM
The onus is to demonstrate that this is actually happening more.

*looks at AW forums*

Yup. Definitely happening more on AW. More in general? That is TBD. However, there has been a good point made that pre-internet or during the Usenet days the writer was forced to go out and do the work of finding the answer themselves if they really were serious.

Also, if it was just a matter of wanting to break the ice, I do have to wonder at asking about novel length or what the different POVs are. They're almost too simple if the person has put in the work of finding the answer already. Why ask what the POVs or novel length are when you can ask how someone else frames something in a certain POV? Show others you've done some basic research and may be new but are willing to put in the work, especially since so many come to this site with plans to seek publication or eventually self-publish.

Roxxsmom
02-19-2016, 12:36 PM
And if all else fails, body language is googleable too.

KTC
02-19-2016, 04:32 PM
And if all else fails, body language is googleable too.

Yep. Brings up an awesome song that you can dance to. (-: Go, Freddie!

cmi0616
02-23-2016, 11:51 PM
I think it's worth noting that almost everybody in America under the age of thirty either is or will become "adept at secondary interactions (via devices)." I'm no apologist for my own generation (I'm 21), but it seems harsh to say none of them have any "understanding of human beings," and, in my experience, it hardly seems true. I mean, to read OP's post, it's as if she thinks that we're all just sitting around texting each other emojis all day. Most people I know who are my age have a kind of intuitive way with technology and also lead pretty normal social lives in which they congregate and converse and interact face-to-face.

It is true, though, that our ways of relating to each other are subtly different from our parents'. Just like their parents had different social norms governing the interactions between them than they did. Writing a novel that's set in contemporary culture and actually faithfully depicts it would be difficult, but it always was. New writers will adapt to changes in society just like writers of every other time period before them did.

I mean, if you want to get really properly philosophical about it, man is the animal that understands what kind of animal he is, and understands himself as understanding the kind of animal he is. When that kind of self-understanding and self-awareness is what distinguishes a person's very ontology, I somehow feel as though the kids are alright.

aus10phile
02-24-2016, 01:54 AM
I've come to realize that nearly everything I've learned about writing from the internet is of questionable value. I guess that has value in itself, though.

You certainly need a filter. But the Internet is helpful even for finding offline resources like workshops and books and so forth. It's just a totally different world now.

Lillith1991
02-24-2016, 02:26 AM
I think it's worth noting that almost everybody in America under the age of thirty either is or will become "adept at secondary interactions (via devices)." I'm no apologist for my own generation (I'm 21), but it seems harsh to say none of them have any "understanding of human beings," and, in my experience, it hardly seems true. I mean, to read OP's post, it's as if she thinks that we're all just sitting around texting each other emojis all day. Most people I know who are my age have a kind of intuitive way with technology and also lead pretty normal social lives in which they congregate and converse and interact face-to-face.

It is true, though, that our ways of relating to each other are subtly different from our parents'. Just like their parents had different social norms governing the interactions between them than they did. Writing a novel that's set in contemporary culture and actually faithfully depicts it would be difficult, but it always was. New writers will adapt to changes in society just like writers of every other time period before them did.

I mean, if you want to get really properly philosophical about it, man is the animal that understands what kind of animal he is, and understands himself as understanding the kind of animal he is. When that kind of self-understanding and self-awareness is what distinguishes a person's very ontology, I somehow feel as though the kids are alright.

Thing is, Shadowwalker clarified what she means by new writers and it isn't just writers of our gen (I'm 24). She's talking about how new writers of all ages seem less adept at coming up with reasons someone would do something. That's a lack of one half of the self-awareness/other-awareness or sympathy coin, and it isn't generational.

Hoever, an awful lot of the people asking these questions recently have been on the younger end of things. That personally makes me feel weird, especially in light of how vague and general the questions are. You don't learn how people act by randomly speculating, you look at what you already know of people and their reactions from a variety of sources and ask yourself how your character would react.

blacbird
02-24-2016, 05:22 AM
I'm no apologist for my own generation (I'm 21), but it seems harsh to say none of them have any "understanding of human beings," and, in my experience, it hardly seems true.

I'm 70, and if you arrive at an "understanding of human beings", please let us all know.

caw

mccardey
02-24-2016, 05:30 AM
I somehow feel as though the kids are alright. I think so, too.

cmi0616
02-24-2016, 06:43 AM
I'm 70, and if you arrive at an "understanding of human beings", please let us all know.

caw

Touché, but I was taking that phrase in the sense that I think it was meant, which is some kind of understanding of the dynamics of human relationships. I mean, what are fiction writers doing if not providing insight into people's relations with the world around them?

cmi0616
02-24-2016, 06:46 AM
Hoever, an awful lot of the people asking these questions recently have been on the younger end of things.

Really? I've gotta say, this is not my experience at all. I mean, how could the question be asked by people as young as us, who've never experienced the world outside of these supposedly nefarious technologies? What would we compare lives that are allegedly "lacking" to?

Lillith1991
02-24-2016, 08:02 AM
Really? I've gotta say, this is not my experience at all. I mean, how could the question be asked by people as young as us, who've never experienced the world outside of these supposedly nefarious technologies? What would we compare lives that are allegedly "lacking" to?


Actually, a lot of these people are mentioning their ages in-post. And I'm getting a bit tired of the evil tech thing. Shadow never said tech was evil, nor have I. She didn't even say new writers meant young ones, that's just what people assumed.

blacbird
02-24-2016, 09:53 AM
I mean, what are fiction writers doing if not providing insight into people's relations with the world around them?

Trying to figure out what it is.

caw

Fruitbat
02-24-2016, 11:12 AM
Before the internet, social media, smartphones, etc. I recall tons of hours gabbing on the (rotary) phone, reading, listening to the radio, watching TV, and writing letters and notes.

Roxxsmom
02-24-2016, 11:29 AM
Actually, we gabbed longer on the landline phones, especially when they were wired in, because they didn't randomly garble words or drop calls in the middle. I think one reason people text so much now is it's hard to hear the other person on cell phones (though at least my iphone doesn't hang up on people when the screen touches the side of my face the way my old Samsung android phone did).

The people who are bent over their phones, texting, in public are an improvement over those people (usually guys in suits) who used to have shouted conversations on their cell phones in public.

Hapax Legomenon
02-24-2016, 07:03 PM
Uh, I think the reason a lot of young people text instead of talk on the phone is because of privacy. If you're out in public and on the phone, everyone can hear all of your half of the conversation. It's hard for people to read what someone is texting unless they're trying to.

cmi0616
02-24-2016, 07:50 PM
Actually, a lot of these people are mentioning their ages in-post. And I'm getting a bit tired of the evil tech thing. Shadow never said tech was evil, nor have I. She didn't even say new writers meant young ones, that's just what people assumed.

Of course nobody is saying technologies are evil, or at least nobody on this thread. There would be some obvious ironies in saying so. The question, as I understand it, is whether the ubiquity of cell phones, the World Wide Web, and the like have a negative impact on the capacity of writers to understand other people, and the world they inhabit.

And she may not have said it, but that's the implication, no? The assumption is made because older people--even if they are new writers--grew up without a lot of the technologies we now use to communicate, and so presumably weren't deprived of whatever it is that today's writers are allegedly missing out on.

shadowwalker
02-24-2016, 08:14 PM
Of course nobody is saying technologies are evil, or at least nobody on this thread. There would be some obvious ironies in saying so. The question, as I understand it, is whether the ubiquity of cell phones, the World Wide Web, and the like have a negative impact on the capacity of writers to understand other people, and the world they inhabit.

And she may not have said it, but that's the implication, no? The assumption is made because older people--even if they are new writers--grew up without a lot of the technologies we now use to communicate, and so presumably weren't deprived of whatever it is that today's writers are allegedly missing out on.

Older people, however, are quite capable of adapting to the new technologies, and becoming as dependent on them for communicating/relating to others as younger people, and perhaps forgetting what they've learned of human behavior the more they remove themselves from the actual, person-to-person connections; ie, they start equating the online behaviors with the actual person behaviors - which, I think we all understand, can be very, very different. We also don't see how those personas act/react with others in different contexts. It's kinda like that old joke about "If it's on the internet it must be true!". We start believing what we're told versus what we observe about people.

This whole discussion wasn't started to attack technology or young people or anything like that. Over the last couple of years, I observed an increase (in this and other forums) in basic characterization questions from new writers; I hypothesized that this may be due to our increasing reliance on secondary interactions, becoming less interested in real world observations/interactions and more involved with digital relationships. I think there is some merit in the hypothesis, but to what extent... ?? There were absolutely no judgements involved - merely observations and trying to figure out what could be happening.

cmi0616
02-24-2016, 09:00 PM
Older people, however, are quite capable of adapting to the new technologies, and becoming as dependent on them for communicating/relating to others as younger people, and perhaps forgetting what they've learned of human behavior the more they remove themselves from the actual, person-to-person connections; ie, they start equating the online behaviors with the actual person behaviors - which, I think we all understand, can be very, very different. We also don't see how those personas act/react with others in different contexts. It's kinda like that old joke about "If it's on the internet it must be true!". We start believing what we're told versus what we observe about people.

This whole discussion wasn't started to attack technology or young people or anything like that. Over the last couple of years, I observed an increase (in this and other forums) in basic characterization questions from new writers; I hypothesized that this may be due to our increasing reliance on secondary interactions, becoming less interested in real world observations/interactions and more involved with digital relationships. I think there is some merit in the hypothesis, but to what extent... ?? There were absolutely no judgements involved - merely observations and trying to figure out what could be happening.

Fair enough, although I don't know that characterization is really a new problem for new writers.

Lillith1991
02-24-2016, 09:20 PM
Fair enough, although I don't know that characterization is really a new problem for new writers.

New? Nope. The basicness and vagueness of the questions surrounding characterization on this site are relatively new though. I've read posts about characterization from five years ago in which the writer stated they were new at writing that were more nuanced than some I've seen much more recently. I find that troubling. Where were new writers getting this most basic information on characterization five years ago that they're apparently now unable to locate?

Hapax Legomenon
02-24-2016, 10:03 PM
New? Nope. The basicness and vagueness of the questions surrounding characterization on this site are relatively new though. I've read posts about characterization from five years ago in which the writer stated they were new at writing that were more nuanced than some I've seen much more recently. I find that troubling. Where were new writers getting this most basic information on characterization five years ago that they're apparently now unable to locate?


I think I can answer that.

I used to be active on a bunch of very large message boards that had active writing sections that were mostly incidental. The sorts of things discussed on these boards tended to be very basic... the sort of things that I think Shadowwalker is talking about. I'm not on those boards anymore but I've been under the impression that those kinds of boards are on the decline with people preferring to spend their time online on tumblr and Twitter and in general on platforms that are very bad at fostering discussion. So, when these writers who used to go to these large boards to ask questions look for discussion, they may find their way here instead. We kind of take for granted that AW's discussion standards are very high, I think. There's not stopping anyone from getting an account.

Lillith1991
02-24-2016, 11:11 PM
I think I can answer that.

I used to be active on a bunch of very large message boards that had active writing sections that were mostly incidental. The sorts of things discussed on these boards tended to be very basic... the sort of things that I think Shadowwalker is talking about. I'm not on those boards anymore but I've been under the impression that those kinds of boards are on the decline with people preferring to spend their time online on tumblr and Twitter and in general on platforms that are very bad at fostering discussion. So, when these writers who used to go to these large boards to ask questions look for discussion, they may find their way here instead. We kind of take for granted that AW's discussion standards are very high, I think. There's not stopping anyone from getting an account.

Huh. Weird. I haven't experienced that on other sites I've been a part of with writing sections. NaNoWriMo maybe, but not my fandom related sites or sites dedicated to Steampunk or whathaveyou.

Hapax Legomenon
02-24-2016, 11:17 PM
Huh. Weird. I haven't experienced that on other sites I've been a part of with writing sections. NaNoWriMo maybe, but not my fandom related sites or sites dedicated to Steampunk or whathaveyou.

It's probably mostly be endemic to very large sites. Try checking the r/writing sub on Reddit, I think it has the same timbre I'm talking about.

DancingMaenid
02-25-2016, 02:15 AM
I think technology has changed how people learn and how much assistance they expect from others. I don't think that newer writers are actually having a harder time with writing natural-sounding human interaction than older generations.

My mom is a handweaver, and she tells me all the time how people on Facebook ask ridiculously simple weaving questions that they could have answered by reading a book or doing a Google search. And these questions are less subjective than many writing questions.

People are getting used to being able to ask questions on the internet instead of relying on their own research capabilities.