Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Our Generation Will Be Known for Nothing": How technology has ruined the game

To be part of a generation is to get lumped together to fight the battle of humanity. If I had every penny for every person who said, "This is for the next generation!" I would have enough to take care of them and say, "This is for the past generation!"

On the last day of February, Buzzfeed, yes that Buzzfeed, published a poem that was disseminated via Twitter by Derek Nicholson, who appears to be as gobsmacked as we are by the writing that his "14-year-old brother" had produced. At the beginning of the article, Buzzfeed primes readers to go through the text feeling certain emotions, such as despair, anger, and helplessness. With each GIF I became more and more skeptical. I read the poem top to bottom, then following the instruction at the end of the paper, I read it bottom to top. Afterwards, I scrolled down to see Buzzfeed's kind attempt at telling me what to think.
A screenshot of the Buzzfeed piece! 
Taken from http://www.buzzfeed.com/bradesposito/year-old-boy-has-written-a-poem-that-will-make-you-ques
I can't help but think how the post, in its entirety, illustrated "our generation", which seems to imply Millennials or the generation after it. Unlike generations prior, whether it is the 'Silent Generation' or 'Gen X', a more significant amount of Millennials were force fed information, especially from the television and Internet. Never before did human kind have instantaneous access to knowledge, be it fact or opinion, to digest, reflect on and attempt to understand.

Paired with transportation advancements, the Internet succeeded in globalizing the world, making it smaller and subsequently, tighter. Many believed that we reached a pinnacle in human connectivity. Even in the 90s, when the chat rooms were young and experimental, people were able to speak to a total stranger far, far away within minutes. Of course, we had to wait for the connection to dial up and we weren't quite sure how to navigate this new space, but with films such as You've Got Mail, we slowly embraced the tight rope of making friends from the comfort of our bedrooms.

Nevertheless, despite all this talk about the sudden increase in human connectivity, technology has, in fact, prevented us from making true connections. At the end of the day, we come out of college or even our late twenties with a handful group of friends. Millennials, nowadays, have created the hook-up culture, a pragmatic system to have one-night-stands or sex-exclusive relationships. Perhaps, this isn't true in countries, such as Indonesia, where premarital sex is considered taboo.

Even so, talking and spending quality time with friends have become grand challenges. Technology, I find, creates a layer of connection, whereby friends can readily disseminate information on groups chats established on apps like Whatsapp or Line. In a way, technology isolates us. Maybe this is just me but I often sense that relationships are fleeting, much like technology. The rapid movement of information, whether it is posts on Buzzfeed or new pictures on Facebook, provides the ideal setting to prevent us from lowering our anchors.

I no longer have to commit to a friendship, both budding or established, to have it. On one hand, it allows me to have numerous friends. I can remain updated about their lives by stalking them on Facebook. I don't have to speak to them on a regular basis to maintain the relationship. In some ways, this provides time to make new friends.

Think, think, think and connect?
Metropolitan Museum of Art
On the other hand, I don't have to commit. I don't have to be there, whether it is via the phone, Skype or in person, to console a friend. I don't have to invest time into my friendships and relationships. At the end of the day, I am not a good friend and I don't feel like I have as many strong friendships as technology leads me on to believe.

One hypothesis is that I value friendship, professional and personal relationships on deep conversations. It's great to know that you graduated with a 3.9 GPA from School X or Y in this major or that, but it isn't the same as seeing it on Skype or listening to you chirp about your experience at school or your (potential) worries afterwards.

The same goes with tragedies. When a member of a group breaks up with his/her girlfriend, other members often learn about the predicament in waves. The closest to that person will know first, so on and so forth. Society dictates that when we hear a loss, whether it is the loss of a person, job or relationship, we should contribute our own feelings of grief to show respect. But, nowadays, we don't have to sit by that person for hours, even months after the break up, to talk them through their detrimental thoughts or wishes. We can just send a "There's tons of fish in the sea!" or "Good luck!" sticker to express the tiny bit effort to make that person feel better.

If these tendencies are not a downside to technological improvement, globalization, and general advancement of the world, they are loopholes, ones that we have to notice and mend. Although it will take time and effort, I believe that it will humanize artificial intelligence. It will allow us to lend marks of authenticity and diversity, which are needed to make it ours. And if you are a tiny bit skeptical, like I was, but as Buzzfeed ultimately shows, Millennials, just like generations prior to it and hopefully the generation after it, is full of mindful individuals who observe, think things through, and react, whether it is via a printed poem, a post on a blog, a quip on Twitter, or a phone call to another human being.

*The first image was taken from Buzzfeed and the second was taken by the author of this article

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