At least once a week, I hear an adult complain how our “new” generation is out of touch with the world. We are narcissists, investing all our time in staring at our own reflections. We don’t know how to communicate in real time, face-to-face with other human beings because we’re stuck living inside of our smartphones.
However, most of our generation is simply a byproduct of our environment.
Of course we have become narcissistic. When we were children, we were lavished with compliments about our cuteness, great potential and undeniable charm. Our skewed perception of ourselves can also be attributed to American society’s obsession with protecting the young. We never learned to be losers. We never learned to accept the notion that maybe we weren’t meant to play this sport or sing that song or draw that picture. When we were young, we all would get a shiny participation ribbon no matter how many times we ate the dirt in a soccer match or how many off-key notes we sung in our rendition of “…Baby One More Time.” We were tricked into thinking we were all winners and that ultimately everything we touched turned to gold.
Accordingly, by the ripe age of eight, we’d heard so many compliments and won so many participation ribbons that our egos may have surpassed the size of a basketball. And by the tender age of twelve, our egos may just be large enough to completely fill Kim Kardashian’s walk-in closet.
One of Charles Darwin’s greatest accomplishments was forming his theory of survival of the fittest – the art of adapting to the environment around us in order to make it through any difficulty or threat that arises. We cope to survive in a world brimming with competition, stress and change; consequently, technology has become the easiest coping mechanism to latch onto today. We’ve come to the point where the greatest reassurance lies in the knowledge that no matter how many tests we’ve failed or how many friends we’ve lost, we can always fall back into an isolated bubble of social media for a couple of hours.
By combining our love for technology and our love for ourselves, social media has become a world of endless sites and networks that the “new” generation loves and the “old” generation loathes.
But before you trek into the great monstrosity that is the Internet, you must mull over an important question: which social media site is the right one for you?
Currently overrun by 40-year-old moms looking to stealthily keep an eye on their sons and daughters, Facebook is slowly falling out of its imperial state. Much to those curious moms’ dismay, teenagers have gradually lost interest in Facebook. Still, Facebook might be the best way to keep in touch with old friends and snoop into other people’s lives – the possibility is only a friend request away. The site offers you a profile that you can flourish with photos, statuses and videos.
Basically, Facebook is the whole package, so why have people, excluding adults over 30, lost interest in it? Well, Twitter, Vine and Instagram came in, tore apart each trait from the complexity that is Facebook and developed those separate traits further into bigger and better things. Twitter, Vine and Instagram advanced the idea of keeping in touch through statuses, videos and pictures into their own sites respectively. What’s better than having everything in one place? Having everything in three social media sites, of course!
Twitter is the birthplace of hashtagging, tweeting, retweeting and “dragging” (more commonly known as producing particularly good insults). It provides a profile for anyone, whether you’re a celebrity, high-schooler, mother/father, or acolyte of a band or celebrity. The 140-character limit teaches an integral life lesson about the importance of brevity.
Watching Rihanna craft comebacks to pesky magazines looking to tear apart celebrities is enough of a reason to have an account (and watching celebrities get into Twitter fights is a close second that quenches our guilty pleasure for drama).
However, the site does have its drawbacks. It can be a toxic environment, offering people the opportunity to unleash caustic words and insults through the safety of a computer screen. It also has its heartwarming moments, specifically when humans from opposite ends of the earth can put aside their differences to rejoice together over the latest Taylor Swift song.
Do you love to take pictures of your food? Do you like to see pictures of Blue Ivy and North West regularly? Well, Instagram might be the site for you! Cluttered with an endless amount of people, from creepers to celebrities, Instagram is the best way to create a photomontage of your life. The rules are simple: just take a picture of anything, slap a filter on it (please, for the love that is all good, do not use Toaster or Kelvin), add a caption and send that snapshot onto everyone’s timeline with just a tap of the “share” button.
If you want to take an artsy photo, take it! If you want to take a selfie, flaunt it! If you want to post risqué photos, think twice because your account will probably be deleted (just ask bad gal riri, a.k.a. Rihanna). Instagram is the perfect place to celebrate yourself and just how good your winged eyeliner looked that one day last week. It’s also a great companion to Twitter to keep up with the likes of Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and almost every other celebrity on the planet. In Instagram’s case, a picture really is worth a thousand words (or a thousand likes if you have enough followers).
Vine is one of the best places to get famous without having any actual talent. The app allows people to make six second videos. The challenge? Be funny enough to get a couple of revines and some followers. There’s a chance you’ll probably embarrass yourself or stoop so low that you’re utilizing sexist and racist jokes to gain a couple of followers. For future reference, try not to ditch all your moral values for a six second video on a site that will probably be well past its prime in a couple of years. Vine has already started to lose its charm, whether it is because celebrities have lost interest in it or because what was once a plethora of original video ideas has started to dwindle.
Tumblr is the land of social justice bloggers, rip-off hipsters and fandoms (the term used for all of the collective fans of a particular movie, TV show or celebrity). Just like Twitter, it can encourage a toxic environment because it allows users to send anonymous messages; therefore, it allows any unsuspecting user to be barraged with hate mail.
If you put that mere detail aside, Tumblr might be one of the greatest educational opportunities available (other than obvious and antiquated choices, like going to school or reading a newspaper). After just one month on the site, you’ll probably learn important lessons about racism, sexism or any other word that ends in –ism. Ignorance will no longer be bliss, for Tumblr will open your eyes to realities that never once plagued your mind before. You will become hyper-aware of any misogyny, racism or sexism lurking beneath any words gracing your ears.
The spate of gifs and photo edits will make you well-acquainted with the amazing capabilities of human creativity fostered by just a simple Adobe Photoshop program and a lot of free time. You’ll never have to worry about a drought in creativity to inspire you, whether you find it in original song covers, poems or paintings. If you want a site to share your artistic work in return for compliments and constructive criticism, Tumblr might be the best choice for you.
No matter which social media site you use, everything you post will forever live in the deep depths of the Internet world. Just remember to be smart and be safe (and don’t embarrass yourself by getting into fights with the Papa Johns’ Twitter account), and the Internet really will be your oyster.
Article by the MoCo Student Staff Columnist Anja Shahu of Walter Johnson High School
Graphic by the MoCo Student Staff Graphic Artist Olivia O’Neil of Einstein High School
About The MoCo Student
In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.View all Articles