I am not a poet. I am a scientist. I can measure the exact frequency of your voice when you speak my name, but I cannot explain how it resonates with such perfect clarity down my spine. I can describe the process by which you inherited your mother’s hair and your father’s smile, but I cannot explain where the twinkling galaxies in your eyes came from. I am baffled by the apparent gravitational anomaly that draws me to you with a force far too great for your size. I know of no way to quantify the volume of your presence in a room.
I am not a poet. I am a scientist. Prose is not my specialty. I will never be able to combine words to craft sonorous verses as easily as I combine chemicals in a flask, but know this — to me, you are every bit as fascinating as the view through a microscope. To me, you are a mystery greater than any cat in a box, and are fraught with as much uncertainty. Each day brings new understanding of you, and the knowledge that there is still far more to discover.
I am not a poet. I am a scientist, and there is nothing a scientist loves more than the the pursuit of discovery.
“If kids can’t socialize, who should parents blame? Simple: They should blame themselves. This is the argument advanced in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd. Boyd—full disclosure, a friend of mine—has spent a decade interviewing hundreds of teens about their online lives.
What she has found, over and over, is that teenagers would love to socialize face-to-face with their friends. But adult society won’t let them. “Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They’re addicted to each other,” Boyd says. “They’re not allowed to hang out the way you and I did, so they’ve moved it online.”
It’s true. As a teenager in the early ’80s I could roam pretty widely with my friends, as long as we were back by dark. But over the next three decades, the media began delivering a metronomic diet of horrifying but rare child-abduction stories, and parents shortened the leash on their kids. Politicians warned of incipient waves of youth wilding and superpredators (neither of which emerged). Municipalities crafted anti-loitering laws and curfews to keep young people from congregating alone. New neighborhoods had fewer public spaces. Crime rates plummeted, but moral panic soared. Meanwhile, increased competition to get into college meant well-off parents began heavily scheduling their kids’ after-school lives.