One college senior who boasts of acquiring 700 "friends" with her profile posted on Facebook.com can't imagine how anything got done in college before Facebook. "Older people had handwritten letters or called each other or whatever," she says. "I mean, really, we have a much more convenient way of doing things." (Especially since we got rid of "whatever.")
There's no Luddite here. I'm writing this on my Dell desktop with an Athlon dual core 2X processor (whatever that is) after checking out my favorite websites. The Internet has its special uses, and we can't any longer expect letters written with a fine and careful hand. But appreciating technology for its virtues does not require being oblivious to its vices. "You," so celebrated by Time, elevates more than a few mediocre minds and untalented men and women. "You" often fails to separate the chaff on the chip from the substantive wheat of facts that demand the scrutiny of a discriminating editor.
The popular media sets trends, but it's not a thoughtful tastemaker or a careful fact-checker. Brian Williams, anchor for the NBC Nightly News, asks an important question: "The whole notion of 'media' is now much more democratic, but what will be the effect on democracy?"
Walt Whitman was the great poet of our democracy. When he celebrated himself he celebrated everyone. He was hopeful about the ways the culture of democracy shaped the lives of children. "There was a child went forth every day,/ And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,/ And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,/ Or for many years or stretching cycles of years."
That should give anyone pause, with or without tiara or even a mirror. Merry Christmas, and God bless us everyone.