Technology has always altered the ways in which we communicate with one another and entertain ourselves, but those changes are accelerating and dramatically affecting the ways that we socialize. Much has been said about how social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are transforming the ways in which we communicate, and it's clear that's true. But there are other effects that our increasing reliance on the Internet as a socialization tool is having on our culture. These trends are obvious everywhere, but especially when it comes to social customs among young people.
Photo by Saad Faruque "Leave the house? Why?"
4. Malls may disappear, and the Internet is partially to blame.
I never thought of myself as a mall rat when I was a teenager back in the '80s, but I guess my friends and I spent a lot of time hanging out in Houston malls (such as Sharpstown and Memorial City) way back then. The mall was a destination, a place to go when we wanted to get out of our houses, girl watch, and play some arcade games. Sure, we'd occasionally shop at places like the original Dream Merchant in Sharpstown Mall. But for the most part, we went to malls as a way to socialize, and a way to interact with other teenagers.
Malls were sort of their own world. A place where adult authority was still present, but somehow seemed diminished. I think the only time I ever felt the stern hand of the adult world in an '80s shopping mall was when my group of pals ran into an older friend of my mother, and she gave me grief for wearing an obscene Circle Jerks shirt. I don't think we were alone. Malls were an important part of teenage life for decades.
But malls are in trouble these days. There are estimates that of the roughly 1,100 active malls around currently, about half will close over the next 20 years. Teenagers just don't seem to view the mall as the center of their universes anymore.
There are a lot of reasons for this phenomena, ranging from consumers buying online more and more to the death of certain types of retailers once common to shopping malls. Which bring us to...!--break-->More »