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The “Look at Me” Generation: How Social Media Can Erode Relationships

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By Enoc vt (File:Botón Me gusta.svg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Full disclosure: The writer is a Millennial.  Carry on.

Millennial — “Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation,[1] is the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when Generation Y starts and ends. Commentators use beginning birth dates from the latter 1970s, or from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.” (Wikipedia)

I have heard from folks (including a few relatives of mine) that millennials are selfish and truly don’t understand the way of the world.  That they’re entitled and often don’t believe in the value of hard work.

I highly disagree.

On the whole, I believe millennials to be highly compassionate.  Many of the millenials I’ve met put a greater focus on service, family, and friends than gaining accolades at the workplace.  Perhaps this is where this misguided notion comes from.

Rather than the “me” generation, I have instead realized that millennials are the “look at me” generation.

Inspired by a recent interview of Aziz Ansari by the AV Club, I have wondered if technology has been ripping us apart rather than bringing us together.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram promise an experience in bringing people together when they instead have people fused to their computer monitors, often being envious of others and wondering/worrying about what they’re *not* doing.

The intimacy and spontaneity from personal interactions is not replicated through digital contact, nor will it ever be.  More so than ever, advance planning and weighing is now a prerequisite for interacting with others.  Facebook is particularly guilty of providing too many choices, eventually leading to potential decision-making paralysis (A New York Times article had an interesting take on choice and its ability to paralyze in 2010).

Further, social media has often acted as a funhouse mirror wherein people attempt to show a side of themselves that should be private, rather than public.  It is now an unwritten rule that on social media, we should show our best side and be inherently positive.  Those who complain repeatedly on social media or talk about how bad things are going for them are often ignored or worse.

This leads me to a particularly ugly use of social media.  A few days ago, a video went viral that contains a woman berating a Dunkin Donuts employee and basically verbally holding them hostage in order to get free things.  The woman repeatedly mentions how she believes the video will make the company look bad.  Quite the opposite.  Link via the Consumerist. Beware – the link has NSFW language.

While I have my problems with social media, it must also be noted that there can be some great things.  These sites provide an invaluable service in connecting individuals to potential resources they may not have otherwise known about.  Twitter, in particular, is incredibly powerful in providing information in realtime and has helped cultivate the Arab Spring and many other forms of large scale organization.

Social media is incredibly powerful and we must be careful in wielding its awesome power.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”  — this quote was used in a superhero film.  It could as easily been used when describing social media.


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