Critical Thinking and Young Girls
Our culture is so engaged in what is gong on within the screen that they are blind to what is happening in reality. In “Quality Time, Redefined” by Alex Williams, a New York Times reporter, a family sits together in their living room, each immersed in their own virtual world. This is what now stands in for family togetherness. One family. Four screens. Four individuals wrapped up in their own cyber-cocoon. Similar to Williams’ article, Peggy Orenstein, author for the New York Times, talks about young girls being disconnected from their society as well as how the internet affects their feelings and relationships in her article, “Just Between You, Me, and My 622 BFFs.” Once wrapped up in our cyber-coon, it may become very difficult to find one’s way out.
The girls in Orenstein’s article can use critical thinking to render judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life. Critically thinking is about overlooking all things a person was raised to believe in their culture. Gary Colombo, vice-chancellor at Los Angeles City College, talks about what it means to be a critical thinker in his article “Thinking Critically and Challenging Cultural Myths.” When intertwined in different social medias, the girls in Orenstein’s article search for online approval from their peers. It is imperative to use this form of thinking to focus on the outside world and not feel pressured to put on a performance online. Using Critical thinking leaves our culture’s view on society out of an individual’s assessment of the people surrounding them.
In contemporary culture it is very difficult to maintain authentic relationships with modern day technology blocking our ability to form these relationships. Even though modern technology gives people the opportunity to connect worldwide, these connections only remain online and there is a lack of face-to-face relationships. Therefore, these online relationships are not as authentic as can be and relationships are being broken because of it. Using Critical thinking leaves our culture’s view on the world out of the picture. Without critical thinking, people are only looking at the surface of things, which blinds them to reality.
People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally and reasonably. Colombo suggests that society should think critically more and not let our beliefs impair our judgment. According to Colombo, culture shapes the way we see the world and the people around us. He explains, “Becoming a critical thinker means learning how to look beyond these cultural myths and the assumptions embedded in them” (3). The authors define critical thinking as the ability to analyze and reshape the concepts that a reader has read.
A critical thinker needs to be able to realize the implications and underlying ideas of what the writers mean. While Colombo’s advice for critically thinking goes towards interpreting writing, it can also be used for every day life. Girls in Orenstein’s article could benefit from using Colombo’s methods of thinking in school and online. In Orenstein’s article young girls feel insecure about their image and how their peers perceive them. Orenstein writes about these young girls’ online struggle to find their own social identity. These girls are usually acknowledged when they put on a show for their cyber audiences: “girls attract the most positive feedback when they post provocative photos or create hot avatars” (448). Some expose themselves online because they feel pressured and others may do it for more attention. These girls are so concerned with what other people when they should be using critical thinking to disregard what others think of them.
Using technology gives people a sense of feeling whole by the people on the Internet that we are able to connect with. Many relationships start off with the help of technology and that personal intimacy is absent, which results in a faulty building block based on what we make an online friend out to be. Individuals disguise themselves using social media, thus creating false hope for being able to connect with a stranger via social media. Williams goes on to describe this feeling of vacancy: “People’s reliance on technology to establish emotional intimacy—weather by ‘friending’ strangers on Facebook or nuzzling robotic Furby pets—can actually increase our sense of feeling inundated and empty” (97). Even though using the Internet to connect with other can be very beneficial, it can also lead to you believe that you need it to have a sense of self-worth.
The lack of self-worth also becomes apparent in Orenstein’s article because girls post provocative pictures of themselves online because it gets them noticed and they consider it to be respectable. As a result of this, individuals are observing these pictures learning how to get the same reaction, “According to Mango, girls attract the most positive feedback when they post provocative photos or create hot avatars” (Orenstein 448).
Rather than setting their own example, these girls preform to the cultivated online image placed by their peers in order to please the crowd and feel important. More and more these days, young people are establishing and maintaining relationships online. American society is changing rapidly; individuals do not communicate with one another as much as they should. They use text messaging via cell phone, instant messaging, or the Internet to communicate to one another. This new style of computer-mediated communication has taken its toll on the traditional American family. Teens are no longer interested face-to-face communication with family members, resulting in a disconnection in the tradition family dynamic. Williams observes this kind of family time and states, “The family was in the same room but not together” (94).
The family she is referring to involves each member of that particular family engulfed in their electronic devices not really engaging in any type of conversation except through social media. As these types of families use their time together to be on the Internet, they are missing out on the delights of actual quality family bonding. Resembling Williams’ studies, Orenstein’s studies show that young girls cannot do anything for a long period of time without checking their technology, “Each carried their cell phones as if it were a fifth limb […] they all had Facebook accounts, which […] they checked numerous times during the school day” (446). These girls are aware of their surroundings, but they are more concerned with what is happening on Facebook or their cellular devices. They are there at school and in class but their mind is in a completely different place.
Much of our thinking is biased and judgmental, but with critical thinking we are able to forget our judgment and live fair-mindedly. Online relationships are based on limited information and, as a result, are incomplete. Technology is currently affecting our culture’s ability to maintain valid relationships. Though modern technology gives people the opportunity to connect worldwide, these connections only remain online and there is a lack of intimacy in these relationships. Young people are establishing and maintaining relationships online and these online relationships are based on limited information and remain incomplete. This new style of media communication has taken its toll on the traditional American family as well as the confidence of young girls.