Let me start with myself.
I own a smartphone. And I face two monitor screens – a desktop and a laptop – five times weekly or more if I have to.
I am active on Facebook and as part of my job, I manage one fan page (well, going two next month). However, I am “more active” on Twitter. Emphasis on “more” because I spend more time on the platform than on Facebook. And I update my followers more than I post on my timeline. On top of that, Instagram is also a place where I express myself more than I do on Mark Zuckerberg’s main app. Plus, an Instagram account for our cat that’s obviously handled by the fur-rents.
On average, I spend six hours on Facebook daily. That long, yes, because of work. On Twitter, roughly one to two hours and about an hour on Instagram.
Safe to say that nine hours of my every day is spent online. And it’s not something I’m proud of.
But even with the long hours I spend on the mentioned platforms, I still consider myself one of those who are not-that-active on social media.
How? I just think so. With me being present online, I still do efforts to be present in the real world. As much as work demands me to be holding my phone the entire time, I also make it a healthy habit to put it down for a few hours. It also means that I consume whatever stuff I read online without letting it drive my head somewhere else.
This fact is something I am proud of. But of course, the struggle is there.
Generations Y and Z, especially the Gen Z, are the ones that embrace this kind of lifestyle the tightest. As expected, from the earlier generation’s perspective, this is as a terrible and unpleasant truth.
But come on, social media isn’t that bad, is it?
History just repeats
It is said that the cultural progression is damaging us as a society. But as they say, whatever has happened in the past always repeats itself – just in “newer” ways. And history will continue to play itself out again and again and again.
In this case, our parents and grandparents can confirm and will be proud to share how obsessed they were with Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry’s music, Dior and Balenciaga’s fashion statements and of course, Audrey Hepburn.
This is exactly the same kind of obsession we have over our favourite bands, celebrities and brands. But instead of showing our admiration by cutting out portions of newspapers or magazines like what the older generation did, we – millennials – flood our Facebook timelines with their photos or click “like” and “retweet” on our most liked celebs.
The point is, our generation is just as distracted and as “influenced” as the previous generations. See for example, during the 1940s, people had their heads down in newspaper pages, checking on crossword puzzles or verifying lottery winning combinations. By the 60s, it was the television and radio to the then old-school people.
And here we are, on our laptops and smartphones. Right.
See where we’re going?
Millennials are no different from Gens X and Y or any previous generations when it comes to being affected by a culture shift.
Entrepreneur and author, Gary Vaynerchuk, once said, “What’s happening with technology in our culture and society is just evolution. Technology is not undermining real human interactions.”
Instead, as per him, it is exposing people for who they really are.
He stated an example to such, “I’ve watched the behaviour of 14 year old girls spending 10 minutes to take the best selfie, post it on Instagram, and then take it down when it doesn’t get enough likes. This superficial behaviour tends to concern pundits who think that technology is the cause of this appearance-driven, attention-seeking behaviour in teenagers.”
The problem according to him is that teenagers have always strived to be liked and sought the attention of their peers and potential significant others. Selfies on Instagram is the evolution of this same behaviour.
Now imagine your future self, 20 to 30 years from now. You’re probably old, so does the technology of this world. And you got children, perhaps, or nieces and nephews. By then, you’ll wish for FaceTime or video calls to trend again, because decades from now, technology might take away the real from our realities. We’ll only get virtual ones. Computerised. Advanced. Enhanced. Worse, augmented realities, providing us with composite but not actual views.
But we will be okay. We all will be.
We can choose to either be pessimists or optimists on this issue.
In most cases and this one in particular, I am an optimist.
You see, technology has not changed us, it just makes it easier to engage in behaviours that we would rather be doing anyway, just in different forms.
There are families who watched TV instead of talking to each other in the 60s. Today, those same families play on their phones and check their likes on Instagram during dinner.
I guess there’s always going to be something in every generation that’s meant to “bring us down” as a society.
But, the truth is that people will always be looking for new ways to be entertained, consume media and engage with each other. It just so happens that we belong to this phase of time where people get entertained by YouTube videos, consume news via Twitter and engage with friends on Facebook.
And that’s unique to our time. Of course, everything is good in moderation and time management.
Friends and followers, this is just evolution. Happy scrolling!