Documentary Club: Generation Like


GenL, 1



I’m not giving up on the book club. I’m trying to come up with a reading list for the year to make it easier for everyone to participate, as well as putting down concrete dates on the calendar for discussion. In the meantime, I thought we’d start talking about documentaries. It’s been a goal of mine to watch 100 documentaries, and I set that goal thinking it would be a challenge. Uh, nope. Not a challenge. I’ve discovered that I can watch documentaries all day long, on almost any subject. (I did fizzle on a documentary on typography, though.)

So! First up: The Frontline PBS documentary (program, really) GENERATION LIKE. It’s about teens and social media. I had so much to say about this program, and I need someone to talk about it with me. Just…what. the. hell.

You can watch GENERATION LIKE online, free of charge. God bless PBS.

When is a good time for you to discuss the cross to bear that is social media?

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Was the documentary on typography called “Helvetica”? I ask because that’s the only one I know of and I loved it. However, I love typography. It’s one of those things I’m always glad to see attributed on the books front matter.

    Also, “God bless PBS”. Indeed. They get a contribution from us every year. It is by far the most watched channel in our house. We only watch television a few nights a week, so that’s saying something 😉

  2. says

    I just read the comments (I know, I shouldn’t!) on the documentary page, and I’m curious to watch it later. Did you see the commenter making the comparison to “Brave New World”? It’s food for thought, and something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

  3. beth lehman says

    jules… i watched half of it this morning right after seeing your ig post. wow. it made me want to call my sister immediately. i had so many thoughts…. one of them being my own use and the joy that ig, flickr, and blogs have given me, as well as the burden that it can be to keep up with them.

    i have three kids… it’s hard for me to believe they will grow up in this kind of environment. it’s almost asking too much of them. they are not going to have fully developed brains until some time in their 20’s, right? so, what happens in the meantime? how can you develop in your children a life with technology that has some kind of balance. (i’m smirking as i write this, b/c for some time i’ve wanted to spend less of my own personal time on line… i’m not sure i can find this balance for myself.)

  4. says

    I don’t have children, so I’m not sure I can chime in on the social media bit. But if you want documentary suggestions, I have many! Off the top of my head, I would say “Hot Coffee” and “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” are really interesting

  5. says

    Very timely for me. I’ve been thinking about giving up social media for Lent (although I’m not Catholic any more, I find much of value in Lent). Have a feeling this documentary will give me just the nudge I need.

  6. Jeanne says

    Hi Jules, our local NPR station had the producer of GLike on the air last week for a discussion with a couple others, including the director of reaserch on development of girls from a $$$ all girls school in Clevleand.This was the mornng of the day iday it was on at night. Bad news for me was I had to go to work and did not hear much, but I watched most of the doccumentary. . I got a little bored with the major storyline of the teens building their brand on youtube (Hunger games girl and that teen who loved One Direction) so I stopped watching, since it was focused on EXTREME examples that were not in my world. I will finish it based on your reaction. I was hoping for more that I could relate to and perhaps share with my teen daughter about social media. She is not striving for a million followers. Her world is seeing friends on instagram at a social engagement she wasn’t invited to. She handles it well, but it pains me. But the whole thing is scary. and you wonder where it is leading. A generation of poeple who will snapchat their babies instead of enjoying them? I will try to chime in whenever you have the discussion. Will get back to my DVR recording and finish it. As one speaker on the radio show said –this generatino is tech savvy, but not media savvy. THis show that was on our local station might also be online, and you may be interested in listening since the guy in the documentary was part of the show. I will check on that an e-mail you if its possible to listen.

    • says

      Oooh. I would love to talk more about the social politics of social media. I follow a lot of the kids from school, and when I see them post parties and stuff where I know not everyone is invited, I cringe.

  7. Connie says

    Watched half last night, will watch the rest today. I’ve so far managed to keep social media at bay a fair amount, not just for my kids, but for myself as well (literally just activated my Facebook account a few days ago, and that was only at the urging of family back east, who wanted to make sure I was in the loop on the status of an older uncle who has been having health issues – THAT was what it took to sell me on it). Resisted getting a cellphone until a couple of years ago, and again, that was because of the kids (contact with teachers, other parents, etc.). I would receive a lot of comments implying that I was “scared” of technology. Hardly; I handle all server hardware and software issues at work, I Powerpoint, I “Presi,” I’m “Linked in” and I “twitter” (both at work) – I just wanted to maintain an oasis of peace in my home life. I began to see that, so often, those urging me to “get connected” wanted me to do so for their convenience, not mine. Having said that, I’m loving the whole world of blogs (your ‘Blogs I Love’ list got me started), and these women (so far it does seem to be mostly women’s blogs I’ve been seeing) are amazing! Also, the whole on-line petition world (e.g., Both examples of how social media can be used as a “force for good.”

    • says

      I don’t think social media is bad. Like anything else, it can be used for good and bad. I do have a problem with how these kids are working for free and don’t even realize it.

  8. HeatherL says

    Yay for PBS! I had commented on Facebook that I’d like to participate, but can’t find much time to watch documentaries but my other concern was access, since I don’t have Netflix.
    This is only an hour and on PBS, so I will try & get it in this weekend. I mentioned the documentary club idea to my husband and he was intrigued, so we may watch this one together, even though we don’t have or work with kids. Thank you for sharing it–I think it may be relevant to the Facebook pages I maintain at work and it is always good to post relevant resources in the field, so I may link to this after I watch it.

  9. Karen says

    Generation Like sounds interesting, and it’s nice that PBS makes it easy to watch! I will try to watch in the next week or two.
    I have a few recommendations for you to consider. Two involve dance but they don’t require you to be a hard-core dance fan; the stories are interesting.
    First Position – young ballet dancers (male and female from a variety of backgrounds) competing in a prestigious dance competition. My kids loved it too. Really well done; moving but not emotionally manipulative (I don’t like gratuitous tear jerkers).
    Between the Folds – about several amazing paper artists, including some that are serious mathematicians. Way more engaging than you would expect! Fine for kids.
    Every Single Step – the process of casting a Broadway revival of a Chorus Line combined with background on how the show was originally developed. Amazing dancing and really interesting behind the scenes view of the musical theater world. (More mature content.)
    Please let us know what you watch and like out of your 100 – always nice to have new ideas of things to watch!

    • says

      We watched First Position as a family over the summer and we all thought it was outstanding. So, so good. I haven’t heard of the other two, but the Between the Folds sounds especially interesting since both my boys love paper folding.

  10. Nicole says

    Love the idea of a documentary club! Have to second the recommendation for First Position – such fascinating stories & hard-working kids.

    Also loved “Happy” (really makes you think) and “Word Wars” (about people preparing for the Scrabble Championship).

    • says

      I’ve been looking at “Happy” but was worried it would be too syrupy. Glad to hear a recommendation. I will definitely check it out. And “Word Wars?” PLEASE. That sounds right up my alley!!!

      • Nicole says

        Definitely check out Happy… it is a *bit* sappy, but you also walk away with a nice ‘its the simple things’ kind of mentality and its an interesting look at life around the world & what truly makes for lasting happiness. And it makes you feel like the things they suggest are within reach, which is nice. :) My husband actually really liked it too, and I normally have to beg for his documentary-watching time!

        Would love to hear what you think about Word Wars… its not the slickest documentary, but these people who commit soooo much of their time to scrabble are such interesting characters. Its a peek into a strange world I had no idea even existed!

    • Shaina says

      We watched Word Wars back in 2007 and I remember enjoying it. At the time, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Scrabble Championships! Social media hadn’t introduced Words With Friends yet, and we had 3 scrabble boards to play on at home.

  11. April says

    I just watched this, and ugh. Now I feel all icky about how I live my life online. I feel dirty and used. :(

    I also feel old… and I’m 28.

  12. Missie says

    I got through half of it yesterday after I read your post. It’s totally sad & disturbing that their self worth is tied to how many “likes” they have from total strangers. While I think FB has been great for keeping in touch with people, if it crashed today, I think the world would be a better place.

  13. Julie says

    So, I watched the documentary this afternoon while working on a “teacher appreciation” door — and all I can think is, what the he11! Seriously. I will join you for sure on the 12th.

    I have to share one story though, and it is more about this sneaky marketing stuff than social media. A few weeks ago, I was at a family gathering, and somehow the conversation at the table turned to Amazon. I like Amazon, and I do find their service on many things to be exceptional. However, someone mentioned that Amazon is starting a pilot program where they can anticipate what you are going to buy next and just send it to you before you even know you need it. I don’t know if this is really true about Amazon, but the person who relayed the story was dead serious. And people — family members with college degrees and doctorates! — said things like, Cool! That will be great! How wonderful will that be! And THEY were dead serious! I said, wait a minute, really? You want that? It would be like when magazines or “mints” would send you a package with collectable coins or books, and if you didn’t send them back soon enough, you were on the hook for the bill. But worse. SCARY!

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