This morning I woke up to 5 Facebook notifications saying that several of my friends had been marked safe during the Orlando shooting. I had been asleep when it happened, I don’t have cable so I can’t watch the news, and so this was how I found out about the incident. Not on the TV with an accompanying panic about the safety of the hundreds of people I know living in Orlando, not in a newspaper which could only afford a certain number of inches to detail the information, but lying in my bed looking at my phone first thing in the morning on a platform I am very comfortable with telling me, before anything else, that my friends are safe.
There are a lot of legitimately valid arguments that technology is changing the way that the younger generations interact with the world. And many of them I agree with. But to the people who look down on my generation for being constantly connected I would say that it is worth it.
Yes technology is changing us. Technology has always changed the younger generations of a society. Only now it is moving so fast that if you aren’t already plugged in it’s almost impossible to keep up. It has changed the way we view relationships, receive news, make decisions, and form our own opinions. We are dependent on our cellphones to keep us connected to this 24 hour stream of information. Social media has changed not only the way that we perceive other people’s lives but also how we view ourselves. This change is happening at almost a instinctual level, rather than a conscious one, and so I think resisting the change is futile. But not only futile, maybe even wrong. Here’s why.
Because of Snapchat I get to stay connected to the daily lives of my friends all over the world. My friend in Saudi Arabia who posts videos of the DIY crafts she makes, my friends in Korea whose photos and videos I eagerly wait for as a glimpse of what my life might be in a few months, and my friends from back home through whom I get to see my city, my home, and the places I love the most. Snapchat is amazing because it gives you the most human level insight into people lives; what they’re eating, what they’re doing, and what they’re seeing.
Facebook give me the privilege to maintain friendships with people I haven’t seen in years, relationships that I would have absolutely been denied were it not for the invention of social media. I know many people who would argue that they don’t want all that information, and that the natural system of relationships is that some fade away and some don’t. But wouldn’t you at least like the choice of having to never fully say goodbye?
And not just social media but the internet in general has made the world exponentially smaller. I’ve been checking my email every 15 minutes for the last month or so waiting for emails about potential jobs in South Korea. As normal as that sounds now, how incredible is it that the internet has given me resources to connect with schools and professionals on the other side of the world while never having to leave my city. That would have been impossible 30 years ago!
I think that most people recognize that there is something different about this generation whether they think it is good or bad. We are the generation that grew up with terrorism. I was in 1st grade when 9/11 happened. I remember being confused when my teacher burst into tears after a phone call to our classroom. I remember my parents changing the channel and telling me not to worry when I saw burning buildings on television. For as long as I can remember the news has been inundated with images of war and terror.
And yet we are the generation of tolerance. If there is anyone who could be scared, hateful, and jaded it should be us. The war on terror started when we were in elementary school, the economy crashed in middle school and the middle east started to fall to pieces in high school. We’ve constantly been told we must have better grades, to get into better schools, to make better connections, to get a better job because the economy just isn’t what it used to be.
I was in a conversation recently with a group of people, all older than me, and they had a lot of things to say about our generation. That we’re lazy, unmotivated, and too addicted our phones. It offended me a little as I wouldn’t consider myself lazy, unmotivated or addicted to my phone, but it got me thinking. I’m not saying anyone should feel sorry for us, I am so thankful to have been born when I did and into the privileges I recognize that I have. I’m only saying to think about why were are different as much as you think about how we are different.
My friends in Orlando are safe, and I am thankful that was the first thing I heard.