Millennials and Post-millennials are Tired of Hearing How Social Media is Ruining Us

Joelle Miller, Opinion Editor 2016-2017

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In the fast- paced age of technology, the notion that social media has destroyed social exchanges is a tired narrative. Reminiscence about the “good old days” are understandable, but the extent to which older generations, such as the baby boomers, criticize subsequent generation’s idea of “fun” is exhausting and has faced rebuttal numerous times; but let’s formally break down the outdated theory one last time to emphasize just how mislead the perception is.

Ask anyone in at least their teen years born from 1980- present day about others’ perception of their generation, and they can tell you at least a handful of stories about their parents or grandparents criticizing how smart phones and social media are the plague of the newer generations. Such criticisms are noticeably based on bias favoring one’s own generation and the old way of life. However, it is important to note that, as with anything, moderation is key. Whether a chemical addiction to phones is an issue currently is up for debate, but most researchers agree that too much time on one’s phone is a habit that needs to be broken.

“While we’re not seeing actual smartphone addictions now,” said David Greenfield, a Connecticut psychologist and author,  “the potential is certainly there.”

Yet, when younger generations face scrutiny for our social media activity, it is seldom based on concern for our psychological well-being or backed by scientific studies. Instead, we hear how in our parents’ generation they actually went outside (as if we don’t) and entertained themselves, versus being inside on technology. The simple answer to this is: well of course. Technology was not as advanced when you were our age, and had it been, there is no doubt that every one of you would have been grasping for the new iPhone 7 just as the rest of us are. Equally important to note is how even now as adults, many of these same critics continue purchasing the newest smart phones, whether for their children or themselves. Social media usage is also not exclusive to millennials.

“While there are clear differences in behavior between the generations, they are not mutually exclusive. Baby Boomers do use Facebook, for example, while Millennials do own the odd CD. But the intensity of the behavior is different,” said market researcher Pete Cape.

Social media provides a platform for discussing real world issues with people from all over the world that there is otherwise no connection with. This expands an individual’s awareness of various societies and introduces them to opinions that can support or even reject their own, either way making them more well- rounded. Millennial teens are incredibly aware of political and social issues, namely because many of the discussions gained popularity through social media. Shown through both presidential candidates appealing to their supporters through platforms such as Twitter, social media users are exposed to political opinions ranging on every end of the spectrum. Social movements such as Black Lives Matter gain their most significant exposure through social media. Without such a platform for activism, widespread support would be difficult to attain, issues are impossible to ignore by bringing attention to them, and access to information is greatly increased.

According to a George Washington University political survey, two- thirds of young voters regard social media information as trustworthy to an extent equal or greater than traditional news outlets.

Social media is, of course, not solely used for political or social discussions. Just as important, social media allows younger generations to laugh together. There is something special about being united through social media, transcending any boundaries of distance or culture. Before social media the chances of connecting with someone across the world were slim to none. Human interactions are not ruined by social media; if anything, they are strengthened.

All Millennials and Post- Millennials truly ask is for older generations to stop looking towards our generations with bitterness. Allow us to enjoy our memes, with a side of political discussions, in peace. We understand that when you were younger going in the backyard and playing with sticks was fun, but times have changed; and the change isn’t wholly negative, despite ongoing claims that our generation is brainwashed by social media.