You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Article Is About You
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Politics and Activism

You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Article Is About You

You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Article Is About You

The Facebook screen says “Why the Girl Scouts Shut Down Honey Boo Boo’s Cookie Stand." A slight scroll down and the screen flashes a filtered picture of a puppy, next an updated profile picture headshot. I see this out of the corner of my eye, but in front of me stands my professor. He has taught for twenty plus years, published numerous books, and regularly gives his students leeway on assignments. He is a nice man, but he doesn’t deserve this millennial’s attention is the message.

It makes me wonder, how does it make my professor feel to see students idling scrolling through Facebook while he lectures over a subject he’s dedicated the majority of his adult life to? Wasn’t that a lot of hard work? Doesn’t he mind that his hard work -- all the emails and office hours and grading -- is being undermined at this very moment? I know I would mind if I’d worked that hard. Simultaneously, can I honestly judge my fellow millennial beside me, while, as the professor’s voice dips into a colossal subject-digression, my hand instantly itches for my phone? An even better question -- when did our virtual lives become more important than our actual lives? Do we simply not have the attention span to be personable within our own lives? If so, what does that say about the quality of our lives?

Joel Stein, a columnist for “Time Magazine” recently penned the article “The Me, Me, Me Generation” with the subtitle label of “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists that live with their parents. Why they’ll save us all.” Unfortunately for Joel Stein, not many people got around to reading the “why they’ll save us all” part -- let alone reading the article. At the time, the storm of outrage that circulated around Stein’s articulate was due, in part, because many of the us recognized in that bold heading a thinly veiled truth. It’s a hard knock to take, I know. No one actually wants to admit to being a part of a generation who are perpetually grinning down at their laps as they get matched on Tinder.

But what kind of self are we cultivating onto our screens? More often than not, the self we are creating is a mere approximation of who we truly are, a self that transcends beyond voice, personality, sensibility. In this phantom guise, we communicate to the world, both in conscious and unconscious ways, the kind of person we want to be, and the content we spew out is more often tied to our own neuroses then it is to our autobiography. We want to be envied, ‘liked’, followed and empowered all at once. But at the same time, no one really wants to hear this antiquated, digital-shaming grippe anymore than we want to hear our grandfather’s glorify the times when people had only three channels and PopTarts were a breakfast revolution.

Nor do we want to hear a hypocritical college blogger whining about the Internet over the Internet. The subject matter at hand is as a overrated as the What Color is the Dress debate, and might also be irrelevant. If one were to speak to a social media enthusiast, there is a good chance they would be perfectly well-adjusted member of society who would speak to you in complete, hashtag-lol-omg free sentences, and would even look you in the eye. They are perfectly capable of handling the complexities of the Internet because they have lived under its WiFi signal for so long. The internet is no longer a segment of technology for millennials. Instead, it is more widely regarded as a piece of equipment we use in our daily lives, the same way we would use a car or microwave. There is nothing soul-writhing about it, nothing to brood or feel disillusioned over. Its just the internet, for Pete’s sake.

That being said, there also exists the irony that this article may even be fetishizing the power of the virtual world, endowing it in the ways that it may have originally set out to discourage. One cannot deny that, whatever the effects of the online world, there is no undoing them. The internet is a vital part of our society. Even still, it is not so much the frequency of our technological exchanges that is troubling, but how the meaning of our reality is altering because of them. I do not know if there is a right answer to this debate, but I will say that I do see people my age sending a birthday card, I see them sending a meme. I don’t see real photos I see staged photos. I see people sitting down for dinner and iMessage every night while the relationship sitting across from them deteriorates.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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