Millennials. Generation Y. Generation Maybe.
There are many different ways that people have named and defined the generation I was born into. We are the generation that is leading the way into the future. We are the ones who will create the opportunity going forward... possibly. Maybe. But most importantly, we are the ones who get to live in world of technology.
I'm defined as a millennial. I was born in 1997, and now I'm a college student working toward a degree so that I can eventually get a job. After all, us millennials are the future. I was born into a changing world, one that is now completely immersed in the digital realm. It is a wired world that I live in, and I can't stand it.
I guess that I started to feel the disconnection between myself and society when I was walking through the student union. When you walk in, there is the giant statue of Testudo, and beyond that, there are so many things that you can do. You can grab food, sit outside with your friends and even explore a free art exhibit. Downstairs, there's a bowling alley and pool tables, along with couches.
However, everyone is either sitting or walking blindly, their faces glued to their screens, headphones in and minds blank. The art exhibit sits there, doors open, and everyone would rather be on their phones. Everyone is plugged in, giving into these devices that completely control them. They're shopping, watching funny cat videos or reading gossip blogs. And none of them notice what's going on in the real world, the one beyond the screen.
People bump into me constantly, brush against me, cut me in line and even accidentally grab my order instead of theirs, and they don't apologize or try to fix the problem. They are too distracted to do so; they're too absorbed by what's next on their Spotify or what their friends are texting them at that minute.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who demands a "please," "thank you" or "I'm so sorry!" I don't do that, because I understand that accidents happen. However, imagine the same scenario taking place, but this time, that person completely distracted by their phone is mindlessly speeding down the highway. The severity of the accident increases, and the consequences can't be solved by a quick "whoops, sorry." And the worst part? These people wouldn't get into accidents, severe or not, if they weren't distracted in the first place.
Right now, as I write this, I am on the computer, also falling victim to technology. I'm tracking the emails with the corner of my eye. I am listening to some Florence + the Machine through my headphones. I am drowning in technology, and I resent myself for it.
As a journalist, I am in love with the concept and the idea of the print newspaper. I love watching people revert to the original ways of journalism, flipping through and reading pages that took hours -- even days -- to be designed. However, unfortunately, print is dying, because technology has conquered the media world, because everyone would rather read 140 characters of news rather than a 20-page print newspaper.
I'm not arguing that the news is of lesser quality because it is taking place of the digital realm, because that is false. I still find myself writing works of the same quality. However, for me, it is upsetting to see that people want to view my work, pieces that take hours, for about two minutes on a six-inch screen. And it's not even giving them a chance to touch the story on a page and really feel it, but instead, they are scrolling and maybe focusing on keywords. That hard work is lost.
A Webby Research Report published the "Harris Poll" in their 2015 white paper, discussing how millennials (2,000 surveyed between the ages of 18-34) use technology. The numbers tell something of a horror story; Big Brother is somewhat becoming a reality.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed are on their smartphones when their with family, and 52 percent prefer texting as their primary way of communicating. In addition, 77 percent found it difficult to not look at their phone when it rings or vibrates.
The generation I was born into prefers to look at their screens than communicate with their family members. No one calls one another anymore, and it seems like face-to-face conversation and real-life interaction has been replaced by one-word replies, "lol"s and "haha"s.
To testify this, technology can make it easier to connect with long-distance family and friends, but what kind of relationship are you maintaining by sending them a text?
Next, technology has completely taken over my world. Everyone around me uses apps to make their lives easier. Myself included, almost everyone uses apps to order food and decide what they are getting to eat. They monitor their fitness through FitBits and use nutrition apps that help control their diets. Sixty-nine percent of millennials are likely to go online and search how to repair something.
People rely on this technology so much that it arranges their lifestyles: where they walk, how much they walk, what they eat and how they repair things. And this may benefit them, but in the end, it imprisons them. In the end, the technology is making decisions for you, and ultimately, this takes away variety, creativity and individuality. What makes you, you.
The world is something that is beautiful. It is full of nature, places to be explored and so much history. History created by man, and now, man is losing their grip. The Earth is becoming robotic, and it is machines that are making the path for the future.
I do not believe I was born in the right time period. I love writing, I love old-fashioned things like print newspapers and record players. As much as I despise the fact that the world has migrated to the digital realm, I cannot pull away from it. In fact, even though 56 percent of millennials admit that they would be happier without their technology, it is incredibly difficult for many members of society to simply shut down and log off.
The only time I have been able to have a "technological purge" was during an AP Language project in my junior year that allowed me to unplug for 72 hours. It was extremely difficult, but it was the first time that I actually felt... free. That was when I came up with the idea for my first novel. It was the first time that I wasn't really chained to a device, not needed and not pressured or stressed. But now, I'm a full-time college student and a journalist, I no longer have that ability to unplug. My profession and my daily life requires me to be a part of this digital age.
What if I get an email, or a story assignment? What if I need to watch a sports game I can't go to? What if a friend Facebook messages me? What if my teacher uploads a grade? What if there's breaking news that will change my life forever. It's a Catch-22, a dead end of a maze with no escape, a room with no doors. I'm damned if I do, and I'm damned if I don't.
As I type, I sit and realize that there is no way out, that this is the life I will lead, set in the digital realm. I'm forced to type, send one-word replies and listen to music. I'm a Millennial, but I wasn't meant to be one. And this is something that excites, confuses, inspires and terrifies me all the same.