My generation is addicted to attention. The most powerful measures of self-worth are the numbers of followers, likes and re-tweets we get. We don’t do things just for enjoyment anymore. Everything we do is either captured on Snapchat to show the world, or tweeted about. We’ve forgotten how to just like things. Instead, we need everyone else to know what we’re doing. We want them to know that our lives are interesting and extraordinary.
My generation have been brought up in a world where every need and want is filled almost instantly. In a world where everything is given, we have forgotten how to appreciate anything. Everything is taken for granted. Nothing is good enough, at least not for that long. As soon as the newest version of anything comes out, what we have is no longer satisfactory. The meaning of value has no meaning. Not for us. We are trapped in an era that promotes the superficial and rejects sentimental insight.
We all portray our lives online in a false light. Our lives online are not true reflections of reality. They are only the parts we feel comfortable showing the world. They are not the real us, but the us that we choose to be in public. Due to the internet, and global connectivity, and this bizarre competition for likes and followers, everyone, on some level, believes that they are special, that they will be famous, that they will be an icon. The reality however, is that someone has to work in McDonald’s. Someone has to deliver the mail. If there are to be ‘somebody’s’ in the world, most of us have to be ‘nobody’s’. The unspoken expectation for us millennials however, is to believe that we will be famous and that we will make it. Social media promises this to be true. With every like we receive, we believe that we’re one step closer to the lime-light. Although for some of us this will be true, most of us will lead ‘normal’ lives (And that’s okay!).
What happens when we wake up one day and realize ‘hey I’m not gonna be famous?’ Our whole self-esteem and self-worth have been built around this superficial ‘like’ system and now we understand it has no meaning. Does this true perception of the difference between the ideal and reality affect our mental health? I think so. I think that many of us can’t take the fact that our names will never be known. We can’t be nobody’s. We refuse to be. This dissonance, I believe, causes anxiety and depression in my generation.
There has been no defining event for my generation, nothing to endure, in any real sense. We’re lost. We spend our time building our online personas, and waiting for fame, instead of spending time developing our real relationships and exploring our real selves. Vanity is slowly overtaking our integrity.
This may seem very preachy, and maybe it is, but on some level you know it’s true.