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Coming of Age in the Facebook Age

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We need to turn off our cell phones and log off of Facebook when it's time to work, not only so we can honor God in our work, but also so we can reach our potential, in order to better honor God in our future work.

In a speech delivered in October 2009 to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, cultural critic William Deresiewicz made the point that leadership requires solitude. (1) The leadership theme made sense—the men and women gathered in that room were preparing to command platoons or perhaps companies of troops. What they lacked was solitude, both presently (as students in common living quarters) and in their anticipated futures (as officers at the forefront of worldwide conflicts). No doubt his message was counterintuitive: after all, leaders by definition are out in front of other people, articulating goals, motivating them to pursue a vision of a better future. So why the need for solitude?


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1 [ Back ] The full text of this lecture was published on 1 March 2010 by The American Scholar, at this URL: http://www.the americanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/print.
2 [ Back ] Claudia Wallis, "The Multitasking Generation," Time (19 March 2006).
3 [ Back ] For example, math education researcher Alan Schoenfeld (a professor at U.C. Berkeley) once asked a group of high school students how long they spent on a math problem before concluding it was too difficult for them. The average answer was two minutes. However, Schoenfeld's research has found that it takes about twenty minutes—time mainly spent understanding how to approach the problem—to really understand what's happening and to make significant progress in mathematics. This story is recounted in Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling book Outliers (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008).
4 [ Back ] Brittney Moore, "The Myth Behind Multitasking," The Michigan Journal (16 February 2010).
5 [ Back ] Adam Gorlick, "Media Multitaskers Pay Mental Price, Stanford Study Shows," Stanford Report (24 August 2009): http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/august24/multitask-research-study-082409.html.
6 [ Back ] Hana Estroff Marano, "A Nation of Wimps," Psychology Today (1 November 2004).
7 [ Back ] Jean Twenge, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (New York: Free Press, 2009).
8 [ Back ] David Brooks, "High-Five Nation," The New York Times (15 September 2009): http://www.nytimes.com/ 2009/ 09/15/opinion/15brooks.html.
9 [ Back ] Jay Mathews, "For Math Students, Self-Esteem Might Not Equal High Scores," Washington Post (18 October 2006): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701298.html.
10 [ Back ] E.g., Valen Johnson, Grade Inflation: A Crisis in College Education (New York: Springer, 2003).
11 [ Back ] Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks, "Leisure College, USA" (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, August 2010).
12 [ Back ] Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).


Alex Chediak (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is associate professor of physics and engineering at California Baptist University. He is the author of Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World! (Tyndale House, April 2011), and was previously an apprentice at The Bethlehem Institute under the leadership of John Piper and Tom Steller of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He maintains a website and blog at www. alexchediak.com.

Issue: "Word and Sacrament: Making Disciples of All Nations" July/August 2011 Vol. 20 No. 4 Page number(s): 33-37

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