I taught in high school classrooms for years and had a short stint at a community college. There's been a disturbing trend that kicked in from the time I started, back in 1997 or so, one that can affect this election: Short attention spans aka Squirrel! Syndrome. And the spans keep getting shorter.
It's not just my observation, not by a long shot. Not only has every teacher I've spoken to been alarmed by the same phenomenon, but countless other adults have all told me they've noticed the same evolving problem, and we all noticed that it appears to be tied to one thing: The increased addiction to electronic devices.
Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of high techitude, and I use it regularly, However, unintended side effects on young people may include
gas, bloating, dizziness, dry mouth, and drowsiness the inability to concentrate for longer than a couple of minutes, becoming easily distracted, and difficulty with: clear verbal communication, active listening, critical thinking, speaking and writing in full, well-thought-out sentences, grammatical correctness, reading analog clocks, identifying basic emotions, cursive writing, and following through on well-intended promises.
That last part, those pesky well-intended promises, is what concerns me the most during this election season.
The kids I taught were sweet, bright, funny, kind (for the most part), caring, committed, and enthusiastic. But as time went on, as smart phones grew in popularity, as students became more dependent on computers, as iPods became more prevalent, as texting became their preferred form of communication, their collective ability and willingness to converse and listen at length (literally longer than about three minutes) and follow through on promises and commitments decreased accordingly. Coincidence?
If I were to say to a teen or twentysomething, "It's imperative to vote (or do homework, or even eat, but right now, it's about voting). You need to make your voice heard, so don't forget to get to the polls today," the standard (and sincere) response was, "Oh I will! I promise! It's really important! I'm so excited to vote!" At that moment, they really-truly-honestly-absolutely-undoubtedly-without-question were going to cast a ballot and make a difference.
And then they wouldn't.
They'd be busy, they'd get a text, a call, or they'd forget, or they put it off until the end of the day and then run out of time. It wasn't a priority after their initial "Yes!! I get to vote! I can't wait! I sweartogod I will. Count on it!"
They meant well.
They meant what they said.
They meant to vote.
But they didn't.
And this is why I am concerned about the youth vote turnout. If you know a young person who has the best intentions in the world but suffers from Squirrel! Syndrome, please make sure they follow through on those intentions. Keep them focused. Point them to their polling place right-now-this-moment-immediately-before-they-get-sidetracked.
Get out the youth vote.