I was having a conversation a while back with Candace at Revenge of Eve about whether we 40-ish people are at the beginning of the millennial generation or at the tail end of gen X. The years that fall into each generation depend on who’s talking about it, but the birth year range 1981-1996 for Millenials seems to be a popular choice. I certainly identify a lot more with gen X, and there’s a lot I don’t get about the culture of those who really grew up in the internet age.
Back in my day…
I notice a difference even between myself (born in 1979) and my brother (born in 1982) in the role technology has played in our lives. When I was in elementary school, I remember using the really old-school floppy disks that were actually floppy, and the computer game Oregon Trail was the coolest thing ever. Moving along to high school and the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia was a big deal, and chat rooms started to become popular.
I don’t think I really started using email much until I was in university. Internet was dial-up at that time, and that could be a problem sharing a phone line with roommates. I don’t remember exactly when my university brought in online registration, but my first few years I had to register via their automated phone system, which was a pain in the ass.
What I just don’t get
Where am I going with this? Well, even though I feel reasonably computer proficient, I feel very far removed from the social media generation. There are a lot of things I just don’t get, including the lingo. Snapchat in particular puzzles me; I didn’t get what the point was when I first heard of it, and I still haven’t figured it out.
I don’t understand why I get followed on Twitter by these random dudes, many of whom say they’re in “USA army”, and they’ve got 5 tweets, hundreds of people they’re following, and a handful of people following them. And inevitably someone I follow is following them. Do some people just automatically follow back, and that’s what the fake USA army dude is hoping for? Or is he a Russian spybot wanting to influence the Canadian election? Regardless of the purpose, though, really why bother?
Sexting was not a thing when I was in high school, because the only person who had a cell phone at that point was Zack Morris of Saved by the Bell, and it didn’t have camera capabilities. How have teenage boys managed to convince girls to send them naked pictures of themselves? What is wrong with our society so that we’ve allowed our boys to think this is okay, and how have we not imbued our girls with the confidence to recognize they don’t have to take off their clothes to have value?
Social Media Generation – Influencers
Why does Kim Kardashian have 131 million Instagram followers? I can get that watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians can be a guilty pleasure, but it seems bizarre to me that so many millions of people want to get a regular fix of Kim K showing off her breasts.
I also don’t get Youtubers. I don’t mean regular people with Youtube channels, but those people who have millions of followers for no discernible reason. I heard the other day that Lori Loughlin, aka Aunt Becky from Full House, has a daughter who’s this big Youtuber with 1.9 million followers. She’s been dropped from sponsorship deals with a couple of different companies. Why does she have so many followers and sponsorships in the first place? Everyone is special in their own way, but is she actually that special? Even if she is Aunt Becky’s daughter? That may sound mean, but does she actually have some sort of talent?
And then you’ve got that dweeb Logan Paul with almost 19 million followers on his Youtube vlog channel and the apparent maturity of a 13-year-old boy, and the complete tastelessness to post a video showing a corpse in Japan’s so-called suicide forest. Oh, and apparently he’s a flat earther. A friend of mine who likes watching Youtube was asking the other day if I’d ever heard of PewDiePie. Nope, but apparently he’s got the most followers of any Youtuber at 89 million. I decided to see what his deal was and I made it through 3 minutes before the obnoxiousness got to be way too much to handle. According to Wikipedia, Dude Perfect ranks #8 with 40 million followers. As with PewDiePie, about 3 minutes in I had to turn them off in disgust.
Are we getting dumber?
Part of why it puzzles me is that there are a lot of people out there generating amazing content on a small scale, so why are people by the millions choosing to watch dumbassness over quality content? My theory, which of course may be wrong, is that once someone becomes a serious Youtuber, watchers end up flocking along like sheep for the ride just to be part of the next big thing.
Perhaps it has to do with being a little older than the social media generation, or maybe it’s more about my personal lack of tolerance for dumb humour, but either way, I just don’t get it.
I’m not anti-technology, but it feels like it has facilitated a kind of dumbing down of society. We’ve got a major world leader word vomiting on Twitter and calling the media the enemy of the people, when a free press is a necessity to have a free society. Instead of the traditional media, some are choosing to get their news from social media, which personally I find rather frightening. Social media can be a great place to learn that something has happened, but it’s not a reliable source to get the details. We need more critical thought in this world, and less dumbing down.
Anyway, that’s my rambling rant for the day about the social media generation and all it entails. Thank you, come again.