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.