When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Lost in another world
Lost in another world

"I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think that the same is true of human beings." These wise words were written by American author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, born 200 years ago on Wednesday. A quiet journal entry from another age cuts through the noise of our current world, moving faster and louder than ever.

Among the casualties of our hyper-connected world is youth itself. Children are exposed to an adult world at an ever young age — and that world is itself still absorbing all the new ways to communicate. And to be human.

One recent story that grabbed attention in Germany was a police investigation in Bavaria, involving a 13-year-old boy who had given away some 10,500 euros to soccer teammates and strangers in the street in an attempt to be liked and make friends. Beyond what this says about the feeling of sheer loneliness modern society is capable of producing, it should also make us reflect on the meaning of relationships in an era when the gap between real and virtual appears to be vanishing.

After all, with the right user interface and business model, paying for "friends' might just make a successful app for adults. Call it the "uberization" of popularity? Paying a small fee to a fellow human being for just a little bit of convenient attention certainly wouldn't be more shocking than paying for that person to drive you around, have dinner with you, or indeed have "your" baby, would it?

Every generation laughs at the old fashions.

Modern technology has brought us great advances, but you could argue that instead of liberating us, it is ultimately bound to isolate us in a society with a price tag on just about everything, including ourselves. And children, as always, are quick to learn.

There was also a report yesterday from the BBC, revealing that thousands of British children have been investigated for sexting in recent years, with one particularly chilling case involving a 5-year-old boy sending intimate pictures of himself with an iPad. It is a shocking news flash at first, until you stop to consider that the access to an increasingly sexualized environment makes it almost inevitable that even the youngest children would end up copying such behaviors.

In his masterpiece Walden, about his solitary life on Walden Pond in Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau observed how "every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new." We know nowadays about psychologists warning that both children and adults can form bonafide dependencies on technology — while parents are urged to be "good digital role models' for their offspring.

It's not always easy, and figuring out what and how to keep from our kids is a daily question. Sure, you probably will want to block violence and sex from their browsers and teach them that friendship has no price. But maybe we should also avoid this raging paradox we found online: Walden, A Game, a "first person simulation" of self-reliant living at Walden Pond.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Society

Gun Violence In America: Don't Blame The Victims — That Means Rappers Too

The recent shooting of Takeoff, a rapper, is another sad incident of gun crime in the U.S. But those blaming hip hop culture for contributing to gun violence ignore that rappers themselves are also victims. And the real point is that in today's America, nobody is safe from gun violence.

Gun Violence In America: Don't Blame The Victims — That Means Rappers Too

Fans wait outside State Farm Arena in Atlanta to attend the memorial service for Migos rapper Takeoff on Nov. 11

A.D. Carson

Add the name of Takeoff, a member of the popular rap trio Migos, to the ever-growing list of rappers, recent and past, tragically and violently killed.

The initial reaction to the shooting to death of Takeoff, born Kirsnick Ball, on Nov. 1, was to blame rap music and hip hop culture. People who engaged in this kind of scapegoating argue that the violence and despairing hopelessness in the music are the cause of so many rappers dying.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest