“The Dumbest Generation,” REALLY?!

The following things have probably been asked or said to those in my generation, Generation Y:

  • “You’re so lucky! Everything is at your fingertips with these smartphones and gadgets. If we wanted to get things donegeneration_y_1382555982_300x400, we had to literally do it ourselves.”
  • “You guys have it easy.”
  • “Is that all you kids do these days? Facebook and surf the internet?”
  • “When’s the last time you picked up a book? Do you read anything else besides gossip?”
  •  “I think you should spend your money on things that actually matter.”
  • “You people say a lot, but don’t do enough.”

One way or another, we get thrown into these types of confrontations. We are looked at as a generation that doesn’t know how to get their hands dirty because we are too busy making sure we don’t drop our smartphones. And even with the world at out fingertips, we still can’t solve issues like world hunger or find cures for serious diseases. We crave instantaneous answers, but never capable of giving our own. I mean, when are we ever going to get a break? I’m sure there are those who really are obsessed or can’t function without a device in their hands, but there are so many of us who are far beyond these stereotypes.

Mark Bauerlein sides with the dark opinions of many in his book “The Dumbest Generation.” It’s a critique of the new generation’s intellect and how much the “cyberspace” as changed us for the worse. For example, there are fewer people reading literature and knowing basic things about our history, despite having access to all that information. To put in more simple terms: Generation Y just doesn’t care at all and the whole world will come to an end because that promised future of strong intellectual individuals are no longer visible. That kind of hurts, because, well, I am a part of this generation whether I like it or not.

in Lee Drutman’s review of Mark Bauerlein’s “The Dumbest Generation,” it says,

.. instead of using the Web to learn about the wide world, young people instead mostly use it to gossip about each other and follow pop culture, relentlessly keeping up with the ever-shifting lingua franca of being cool in school. The two most popular websites by far among students are Facebook and MySpace. “Social life is a powerful temptation,” Bauerlein explains, “and most teenagers feel the pain of missing out.”

Is that where it all boils down to? Now, I can sit here and just reject everything that has been said about my generation and complain about how Bauerlein is being a bit harsh on us; but he has a point. Our time is completely different and how we connect with one another has changed. I know people who just talk about social media and gossip all day, without saying anything significant about politics. There’s also the rise of younger people committing suicide over things said online and being bullied constantly with faceless figures on websites. The Internet has given us so much, yet taken away a lot as well. I see Bauerlein’s concerns, as I see of those my parent’s, grandparents’, and teacher’s have. This power of the world-wide web is abused.

But what upsets me is that no matter how much so many of us are aware of the issues of technology and the Internet, we are still seen as people who don’t feel. We are viewed as selfish, stupid and full of ego. I don’t know about the rest of the people in my generation, but I am fully aware that I am more than the profile page on my social media sites. There’s more important things to read about than what Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are doing. I’m aware of the consequences of posting pictures on the Internet. I know there’s a world out there and a history to remember. I’m guilty of scrolling through social media instead of opening my textbooks first. I’m even guilty of shopping online instead of listening to class lectures. But you know what? I still take really good notes and ace exams. I pass all my classes and still want to do so. I still pay attention to my professors. I explore outside these four walls. I actually eat the food I take a picture of on Instagram. I talk about world issues and history. Basically, I am not as stupid as Bauerlein thinks I am. I worked my butt off to get to this place in my life. There were plenty of sleepless nights of studying and research. I’ve been through meltdowns. I still use a paper and pen and continue to read actual books. It’s not fair to judge us and label us as “the dumbest generation.”

My parents didn’t raise me to be lazy, mindless, good-for-nothing, self-absorbed, or stupid. Instead, they taught me to work hard and be humble. I would never want them to think they raised me to be a professional selfie taker. I want them to be proud and give them what they deserve. My parents are are loving, hardworking people, and as their child it’s my responsibility to make sure they are taken care of. As is the duty of every other child out there! So I challenge Bauerlein’s notion of a loss future. I sure as hell will not let my parents see that they did all of this for nothing and I hope I have people who feel the same way.

I want to hear from my fellow Millennials, my Generation Y peeps, what’s the biggest misconception about our generation? Are you buying into the hype of the “me” generation? Is there really something wrong with us?  And if you believe so, how can we change that? Because if there really is no future, then why do some of us still care?

The New Social Elite

humanizing_technologyI speak the language of emojis and can also talk in Internet slang.  Depending on the time of day and the amount of patience I have within me, I’d say I’m pretty good with computers and troubleshooting. I know what the buttons on a DSLR camera mean and can work a smartphone better than I can organize my closet. I am definitely a Digital Native.

I grew up during the rise of instant messaging, social media, and texting. Now we have Skype, Siri, Google, and various apps that make our lives a little easier. But all of this must be frustrating to those we call Digital Immigrants, those still stick in the age of physical books and snail mail. The biggest distinction between Digital Natives to Immigrants is the language; we simply speak in different tongues while trying to explain and do the same things.

5209796269_3b538042c8_oWhat’s so amazing about technology is its ability to connect people unlike ever before. Imagine, a message had to once be delivered by horseback! That message took days to get to its destination, whereas now, it takes a few seconds to hit ‘send.’ Families and friends can stay updated with each other’s lives through Facebook and video messengers, instead of having to wait until your next visit. How we socialize and stay connected is completely different now. As you can tell, I am very much an advocate for the Digital movement. Though, to say I am completely immersed in this virtual world would be stretching it too far.

As fluent as I am in the Digital language, I have tendencies to generate an accent. I still love my physical books, writing in journals, and actually going out to see my friends instead of scheduling a video call session. Technology is creating new things so quickly that no matter how much I try, it becomes harder and harder to keep up. There are times when I just want to tune out of all the techy stuff, shut down my laptop, put my phone down and breathe. This generation, Generation Y, is so in touch with their profiles on the web that we forget about the person we are right now. We are obsessed with trends, what everyone is doing, who’s saying what, and how to get the latest gadget. Of course, there are some who are Gen-Y that aren’t as obsessed as others, but I wouldn’t believe you if you said you absolutely have no form of social media.

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Some Digital Immigrants believe that Millennials are part of the dumbest generation. Where all we care about is online profiles, instantaneous answers, and visuals. But I believe they are completely wrong. We still care about content! We care about international events and the stock market. We aren’t as numb to the world as others put it. What makes us different is the way we share that content. As long as we are able to stay in touch with one another without losing sight of the olden ways, Natives and Immigrants will always have some kind of commonality.

No matter what technological advances we may have in the future; if Facebook dims down to make light of a new social media, or flying cars will finally be in production, I will always remember the contribution of those before us. It’s fun to participate in this upbeat digital age, but it’s always important to look up and see that this world goes beyond the screen. There’s just some things in this world that can’t be digitized.