It’s often said that the emerging generations (Gen Y, Z, and whatever else we’re up to) are more feelers than thinkers.
For us, apparently, experience is king. And (the argument continues) we’re so plugged in and connected that we’re too distracted to engage in sustained thought or serious reflection — the kind of thing required by novels, sermons, essays, etc.
Anecdotally, lots of people I know are far more likely to take a photo with Instagram and post it to Facebook than to sit and ponder the mysteries of existence. (Although, for some reason, popular New Atheist manifestos like The God Delusion often still manage to get traction. Hmmm…)
But I’m wondering if the judgement that’s been passed on younger generations is too hasty.
You see, taking a photo — and applying a filter (or border) to foreground particular aspects of the composition as Instagram allows, and giving it a caption, and then sharing it (potentially along with a number of other photos) — demands that you step back or aside from experience.
To snap a good photo you’ve got have at least one foot outside the moment. You’ve got to pause and frame it. And — even if you’re not yet fully engaged in reflecting — you’ve got to start moving in that direction.
This may be different from traditional ways of doing reflection. And it’s no doubt tangled up with all sorts of other things — the desire to capture/manufacture the quintessential ‘cool’ shot, a need to impress, etc (although traditional modes of reflection are hardly immune from these forces). But it isn’t necessarily a failure to reflect.
The challenge is to work out how to harness and develop this mode of reflection — even letting new generations teach the rest of us new (and potentially more powerful) ways recollecting and reflecting.