About that David Sparks article on social media…

This post is making the rounds today on social media (🤔) about the dangers of social media and the growing tide” against it.

David reports a couple of anecdotes about today’s youth:

  1. His daughter is a high school teacher and has kids so addicted to TikTok they watch videos during class until she took their phones away.
  2. A saxophone podcast guest who laments young musicians not finding their own voice” because of TikTok.

First off, I’m sure both of these things are true. I’m in no way saying that Sparks is lying but his two anecdotes don’t portend danger to me. Let me address the 2nd item first.

Just yesterday, I was listening to a saxophone podcast (yes, a saxophone podcast) where the guest explained that young musicians couldn’t find their own voice, because they are constantly comparing themselves to videos they see on TikTok instead of exploring their own art.

It’s funny that I read this today because just last night I was at the winter concert for my son’s high school jazz band where nothing could be further from the truth. This was an incredibly talented group of kids who clearly take their art seriously.

One of the three groups that performed was the Jazz Combo. This was a smaller group made up of members of the Jazz Ensemble which is the highest level of the jazz bands at the school. The point of the Jazz Combo is to let the kids explore their own art”. They make the choices about what is played. When it was their turn the band director sat in the audience and it was the kids who controlled everything. What we heard was:

  1. A song written by, and arranged by, one of the two guitar players in the band.
  2. A jazz standard re-arranged by one of the trumpet players.
  3. A favorite jazz tune of the other guitar player who wrote the parts down by ear, and did his own arrangement.

This is not kids who are either constantly comparing themselves to something on TikTok nor not exploring their own art”. I’m going to bet all of these kids use social media and YouTube. My son does too, but he doesn’t let it get in the way of everything else.

Anecdote 1? The high school teacher who had to take phones away? Uh, why not just have a no-phones policy when the kid walks into class or something similar?

Quite frankly I’m getting tired of adults ragging on kids about social media while not being able to extract their faces from their own devices. Kids today are savvy and doing incredible things. If anything it’s as much about us as parents: how we model proper behavior, how we set limits, and how we interact with our kids on a daily basis. You know, parenting. Social media is a convenient scapegoat for shitty parenting.

That isn’t to say that social media doesn’t prove challenging for some, it certainly does. I just don’t agree that it’s some scourge on society. Like anything else we have the ability to figure out how it’s used in our lives. It can be a useful tool like many other things.

January 18, 2024