Generation Y Problems


Photo by Thom Weerd

I may be overgeneralizing or projecting my incompetence on an entire generation, but my observations of millennials after having lived around the world has me concluding that these are a few of the universal flaws of our generation.

We live in a 140-character or less world that demands instantaneous entertainment. The world must literally be on our fingertips at all times resulting in an attention span that constitutes fifteen minutes of work and thirty minutes of Facebook. We bond more by watching television shows rather then hour long phone calls… and that’s assuming we even still have hour long phone calls. Reading a map is considered a skill and being on-time means texting the person you’re meeting five minutes before that you’re going to be twenty minutes late. Our primary news source is Twitter and fear talking in person with people so we opt for the less intimidating text.

Call me nostalgic, but it wasn’t until I was stripped away from my smart phone that I began to comprehend the beauty in what some would call “primitive” simplicities. If you really want a “Throwback Thursday,” try refusing the Internet for one day. I promise you being one day late to the current Miley Cyrus debacle won’t be the end of the world. In fact, it might save you a little sanity and purity.

My iPhone was stolen in September and after initial panic, I started to appreciate life more. Yes it’s a struggle not being able to Instagram my meal or Snapchat a divine sunset with my ugliest face peeping in, but I’ve slowly come to learn to appreciate the moment and to take each second to the fullest without having to live life through a screen that mediates between me and reality. Maybe no one will believe that I ran into Jesse Eisenberg in Chinatown because I didn’t have a photo to prove it, but since when did my memories and experiences have to be validated by other people’s lack of doubt? Also known as the “pics or it didn’t happen” nonsense.

I believe technology was initially created to simplify life, but we’ve only complicated it. When has it become acceptable for everyone to be on their phones at the dinner table and the only words being spoken to each other is how the food tastes? Why is it that I know more about someone because I stalked their Facebook profile until 2009 instead of having a conversation? It doesn’t seem right that I know everything about my so-called “friends” from high school that I haven’t talked to in years, but a simple “like” indicates that I still want to be in your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love technology and adore social media, but I can’t help but sometimes feel that all this technology has done for me is make me afraid to let go. I’m afraid of awkward silences and confrontation so I stare at my iPhone screen when I see someone I know walk by. I fear allowing old friends become acquaintances, but not willing to put in the work to maintain the relationship so I write a simple “I miss you, how’s life been?” post on Facebook. I’m scared to talk about my emotions and how I feel about a situation in person so a simple instant message solves the problem. I sometimes get nervous during conversations that last more than ten minutes because I’m thinking about what to say next.

And I’m positive I’m not the only one.

Not only has technology managed to make me devolve in my communication skills, but it has instilled in me this never-ending demand for now. Frustration arises when it takes me more than two seconds for a web page to load. I need to jump on board with the latest hashtag trend on Twitter or receive constant updates on the Bulls score. Even news reportage and investigative journalism has declined in quality because of the importance of being the first to ship out a story.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels like the human form of a squirrel who’s spotted an acorn in the next tree over. And if so, I sincerely feel the awkwardness of confessing one of my greatest life struggles. However, as I’m laying on my couch, I observe four out of my five flatmates all typing away on their laptops surfing through the latest Buzzfeed list or updating their Facebook statuses. I’ve lost touch with reality and live in a virtual reality, quite literally.

Sure this is a first-world problem, but it’s a problem nonetheless where we have people forgetting that there is a world outside from their 13 inch Macbook screen. This is an epidemic and many of us are suffering from a severe form of the Generation Y bug. It has its many ups, but people like to talk about things that irritate them, so here’s one. I guess my challenge to people who struggle with the same dichotomy of needing everyone to pay attention to me, but incapable of staying focussed for more than a 2 min. YouTube video is to put down that smart phone, gently close your laptop, and talk about something unrelated to Beyonce’s vegan cupcake Instagram with the person in front of you.

Please reinstate my pride and tell me I’m not the only one with these problems. Let me know your thoughts below.

  1. December 17, 2013 by Colin Philbert Chau

    That you take what you describe as not liking here as a generalization of society as a whole, one might proffer that you simply have to expand your circle to include those who espouse the opposite, and then you’ll realize… Not all of Generation Y is as you describe.

    • December 18, 2013 by Connie Zhou

      you’re definitely right, and I made it a point to say that not everyone’s like this. as is most things in life, not everything applies to everyone. however, you have to admit that a huge aspect of this generation is described as the digital natives for a reason. if you step outside in a city, you won’t find very many people not being distracted by something technological. and now with this whole wearable technology like google glass and smart watches, I can’t help but to worry a tad.

  2. December 17, 2013 by Zhenya

    I lost my phone on the flight over to London, and it actually helped me more than hurt me. The only thing I miss is having music everywhere I go. But I definitely agree with you, we really do live in a virtual reality and it is really unfortunate. Now that I cut ties with my smartphone I feel in a sense– free, to the point where i decided when I return to the states I refuse to pay 100s of dollars for a phone plan just so I can be stuck inside that world again. Not having technology constantly around you changes you, and I’ve been longing for a change like this for awhile. I guess I woke up. So you are definitely not the only one! 🙂

    • December 17, 2013 by cpcolinchauolin

      It may be difficult. There are areas in our lives where we can surely survive without the connectivity, and then there are areas of our lives where it would seriously run counter to logic not to be connected and thus having to forego various opportunities that might otherwise have come our way. And one of those opportunities may have been meeting like-minded people… ironically.

  3. December 22, 2013 by Ivan

    Really enjoyed reading your post Connie, you articulated the whole thing beautifully. Speaking as a person who’s never had a smartphone nor do I want one, I do find myself mildly annoyed whenever most of my friends are on social media when we could interact or check out the latest exhibit. Social media is great but I don’t need it with me wherever I go; one can always check Facebook, add their latest skill on LindedIn, or browse through their email when they settle down to catch a break. However, it should not impede on one’s everyday interactions and experiences. Take this for example, on a ferry across the Bosphorus with my friends on their phones I was looking out when I saw a whole pack of dolphins swimming toward the Sea of Marmara. If it wasn’t for my excited yells, they would have missed it (many did, by trying to record it). Call me old-fashioned but I do enjoy normal interaction and seeing the beauty that is the world around us. The feelings that you described are quite accurate for many of us. And don’t worry, awkward silences are fun sometimes.

  4. January 22, 2014 by Annie

    I can identify with much of what you wrote. I also read your post about Asian Americans (I am one) and I think you seem to have a keen sense of observation and ability to describe what you mean really well. At least that’s my opinion from reading these posts 🙂

    I also think what you write about applies not only to you. Maybe it isn’t applicable to everyone, but maybe it applies to more people than will admit it because maybe there are also people to whom what you describe applies exactly but they aren’t willing to admit it to themselves because it would require challenging how they live their lives, in an illusion that everything is ideal, when in reality there are many ways we could be living better. Thanks for another insightful post!

    • February 26, 2014 by sandy

      You are definitely correct on all that you said, great article

  5. April 20, 2014 by anne

    I absolutely agree!

    On a related rant: Isn’t it annoying when Facebook statuses becomes a live report of what happens in other people’s lives? And that you are supposed to keep up with it as if they were all reality TV stars? I am frequently in awkward situations like randomly being asked if I am going to someone’s event, like a engagement party, and being like:
    “what, they got engaged?”
    “Yeah, didn’t you see her Facebook?!”
    “Uhn…no, but that is so cool! Tell her I say congrats!”
    “So you aren’t coming?”
    “I don’t think I was invited…”
    “Of course you were! I checked the guest list on Facebook! Just reply to the event!”
    “Oh…it’s been months since I checked Facebook”

    • April 21, 2014 by cpcolinchau

      Actually a more important question would be why a person would afford a TV star (presumably having no direct relationship with) more attention than one that they do know (presumably somewhat related to and respected; if not valued then i would understand.).

  6. May 04, 2014 by Hyuntae

    “but since when did my memories and experiences have to be validated by other people’s lack of doubt?”

    Wonderful line! Keep writing!

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