As a young twenty-two year old living in this day and age, I am constantly surrounded by a world of instant gratification. Need to look up a definition? Instant access to an electronic dictionary. What was the name of that one song? Google it. Need an update on an old friend’s life? Facebook stalk them for a few minutes. Who needs conversation when we have text messaging? Why go visit someone when you can FaceTime them? Frankly, I find it disappointing that the culture of my generation revolves around social networking rather than actual interaction.
The technology at my generation’s fingertips has resulted in the steady isolation of individuals. We are talking less and typing more. Communication skills has decreased drastically and interpersonal relationships are often limited to a computer screen. Convenience is a sly beast; it is much more convenient for me, on most occasions, to send a text rather than make a phone call. As someone who has lived in 4 states in the past 4 years, I can certainly attest that there are upsides of social networking and the convenience of cell phones because I’m able to easily keep in touch with friends from other states. However, I am becoming more and more frustrated with our reliance on a computer or phone screen rather than an actual person.
Psych studies have evaluated the strange cultural trends that have emerged from our technology and social network addiction. Narcissism has spiked in the past 10 years, and shows correlation with the progression of such sites as facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. People my age seem to think that every thought that tumbles through our heads and out of our fingertips is something fabulous, witty, or hilarious. Facebook’s status update prompt, “What are you thinking?” seems to indicate that everyone else actually cares about that question. To be honest, I don’t care whether my friend went to the gym 5 times this week or about the obnoxiously ostentatious “OMG LOOK AT MY NEW ENGAGEMENT RING!!!!!” photos. If I cared about someone’s engagement, I would certainly be informed about it by some more personal method than facebook. I have the tendency to delete people based on how much they annoy me with their photos (girls making “kissy faces” and guys flexing in the mirror), their ridiculous status updates, or their insistence on creating internet havoc by trolling around looking for political statements or anything remotely controversial.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a friend what they did over the weekend and their response is “just stayed on facebook all weekend.” I’ve definitely fallen victim to it myself. Social networking is a sick addiction. People stay on facebook longer than any other website. It preys on our innate desire to be social creatures, yet completely removes the actual social interaction. It’s incredible how many people are “friends” with someone they don’t know. The internet provides this veil of anonymity that makes people think they can say whatever they want with reckless abandon. People feel so much more comfortable conversing with others via text form over actual talking. It’s a really sad and scary trend because it’s basically turning my generation, and those that follow, into a bunch of hermits that stay on a computer instead of going outside, spending actual time with friends, exercising, etc.
I am not separate from my peers in some regards. Yes, I have a facebook and I visit the site frequently. However, I don’t know many of my classmates who have moved around as often as I have; many of my classmates have stayed in the same area for a long time. ”Keeping in touch” via facebook is a lame excuse for anyone who lives in the same city as all of their friends. I tried twitter once and it made absolutely no sense to me so I deleted the account. I happen to love instagram because I love how accessible photography (like actual photography, not pictures of your breakfast) is to people via that app. I have no idea how to work tumblr. I will say that I think pinterest is completely awesome because you can use the site to get cool ideas for DIY crafts and fashion and exercise tips and every other fabulous thing available on the internet.
There’s so much more to this life and human interaction than what my generation is experiencing. I hope we can step away from the computer more often and have more engaging real relationships instead of cyber-love. We’ll see what happens… Maybe it’s a phase everyone will grow out of by our late twenties?? Fingers crossed…