Cha_Modernity and Subjectivity.pdf

Today we see that this is already true for a great

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Today, we see that this is already true for a great many of the younger generations in East Asia. China, with 56 million broadband users, is second to the United States which has 60 million, Japan is next, and South Korea is slightly behind Germany, placed 5th in the world for its use of high speed internet, at the time of writing at least. How did cyber use become so pervasive and influential in countries which have only recently become industrialized and are still in the throes of that phenomenon? For East Asian developing countries, one might say the dangers and the blessings generally have been divided between the more rigidly defined lower and middle classes, with the lower classes feeling the brunt of what- ever industrialization has to wield and a middle class caught in a cyber web. Many East Asian countries had a middle class primed to enter into cyber use and, as that class has expanded, so has access to the many uses of the internet, not only in the workplace, but in the home. Despite vary- ing degrees of government restrictions, these countries have been able to make extensive, commu- nicative use of cell phones, blogs, discussion forums and internet networking to stage huge protests and rallies. South Korean teens were able to organize one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in this century. Yet reputable social scientists and observers of democratic trends noted that misinformation sped across the internet faster than rumor in a small village, firing up students who accepted it without question and mobilized their protests electronically. While, pre- sumably, web forums are a place to debate both the pros and cons of an issue, that did not happen in this instance. Those who wanted to enter the web discussion forums to critique the issues were not welcome and were, instead, rudely dismissed. The instant and frenzied gratification for the young people involved resembled the hysteria of shamanism with its reliance on fetishes and emotional release. Like justice is said to be, the communication tools generated by cyber technol- ogy are blind; they work just as well for noble causes as for mindless ones. From the nations which use the internet heavily, we also learn of young people playing inter- net games for 16 or 17 hours a day. In Korea, desperate parents elect to send such youngsters to camps where they are forced to engage in physically demanding sports and activities and to take risks in the outdoors. As well, they are restrained from using the internet or watching TV for the duration of their stay. Boot camps for cyber addicted teens seem like a drastic measure. A million teens organizing themselves for protest based on misinformation and taking to city streets with fiery torches is a nightmare. Is it we who have lost our way in modernity or has the advancement of modernization failed us?
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Christopher Reinemann
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