There is something wrong with millennials.
I think a lot of them have their heads stuck up somewhere very unpleasant.
I think a lot of them are very self centred. There is a rampant culture going around, and while it might be positive for a lot of people, it can have its negativities.
I call this the culture of selfies. I am noticing it more and more everyday. Young people holding their phones up and turning their faces this way and that to get the best angle for a photograph of themselves.
Imagine for a moment that we didn’t have mobile phones or cameras – the equivalent to that would be to carry a small mirror in one’s pockets and habitually check one’s reflection during the day, pausing when one thinks one looks their best to ask a passing painter to draw their likeness in that moment. Sheer vanity, is what it is.
A lot of people would say how harmless it all is. Which, to an extent, is true. However this ‘selfie culture’ transcends mere picture taking. It has an ominous depth which is slowly poisoning society and turning children into narcissistic beings.
People are starting to have the attitude of ‘me me me me’. This is usually a normal human phenomenon; when teenagers reach a certain age they do tend to think the world revolves around them. However, in the normal state of affairs, they are soon knocked into reality when nobody panders to their selfish whims and they learn to get a hold of their emotions. What is ominous in this generation, is the fact that teenagers have an audience to project this narcissism. You can be anybody online. They get their support from other like minded people across the globe, and turn into bigger assholes than they already were.
Take my younger sister for example. She lives in a lovely home, and our parents take exceptional interest in her hopes and aspirations. She has real life friends, but for a certain period in her life (ages 16-19) she made lots of internet friends too. Other kids, her age, in Europe and America. I watched as her attitude slowly began to change. She was generally nice to get along with, but could sometimes be difficult and stubborn. When she made internet friends her attitude towards my parents started becoming hostile. She began to bring up problems that did not exist, and she started swearing at them.
Phrases like, ‘You don’t care about me’ and ‘You trap me here in this home’ and ‘You were never good parents and look how I’ve become’ started peppering daily shouting matches. These phrases were echoes of conversations she had with her ‘internet friends’ and related to me previously and some of which I was privy to myself. Other young people banding together to turn a simple complaint about a parent into a dangerous rant about how abusive all parents are and how they absolutely do not understand this generation. Some kids might actually have been abused – but my sister, who had always had the utmost respect for my parents, was treating them like dirt.
It reached a point where she told my father he was abusive before swearing at him and shouting that she wished he wasn’t her father. I tried to speak to her but she hissed scathingly at me, telling me that I was a hypocrite and just on their side. Later on, my father went to her room where she sat sulking. She stood up, and there were tears in her eyes, and she hugged my father and whispered that she was sorry.
I thought my father must have been heartbroken to be called abusive by his youngest daughter. They had always been so close, my sister and my father. She would hang on to him the minute he returned from work, and fall asleep beside him as a child. I knew she regretted what she said the moment it came out of her mouth, but the fact that she said it, and thought she had the right to speak that way to a parent who has only ever worked his back off for us and sacrificed happiness and a full life to make sure we were comfortable – was so unlike her.
This attitude that everything is about ‘me, myself and I’ also gives way to the extreme personalisation of one’s thought process. Countless videos are being uploaded daily where young people analyse themselves extensively, talking about themselves for hours and hours, looking at themselves talk to themselves and reacting to videos of themselves. They analyse every aspect of their being and make it public so the world can see them do that. To a degree, that is narcissistic. This self importance and indulgence in one’s self is normal behaviour, in the privacy of one’s diary or among friends – even turned into an art form or projected onto literary characters. But to be given a platform where one can spend hours everyday talking about themselves can be damaging.
A lot of parents say things like, ‘in my day we met real people’ or ‘we spent our childhood outdoors’ or ‘we could have a real conversation without checking our cell phones’ – perhaps they say this because our culture has become one in which people are so closed into themselves now. There is not much of a community, in lots of areas. People spend time together, scrolling through their phones and talking to people miles away, or liking instagram photos of the person sitting right next to them.
I was with a girl last week, for example, and she kept taking her phone out and arranging her hair and face before posing before her front facing camera. She tried so many positions, during our conversation, and honestly if I didn’t know what she was doing I would have thought she was deranged. When she couldn’t find one that suited her, her mood changed and became dark. She tutted and sighed and commented on how ugly she looked. I felt so sad for her. I told her to just enjoy the day and forget about how she looked, for once! I tried to make her laugh and distract her, we visited a park and went crazy on the swings, and she eventually cheered up again.
Looking down at your phone might feel like looking through a window into the whole world. A world which likes your photos and elevates your self worth based on superficiality. The internet it so vast and filled with a clamour of global noises. But what if it has reached a point where we are so obsessed with our phones that we miss the very real world spinning right before our eyes? We miss very real people passing right in front of our noses? What if we spoke to the person sitting next to us on the train, rather than that girl on twitter who lives sixteen thousand miles away?
The internet has a myriad of positivities, however it does provide a platform for people to air their woes. Sometimes this could be dangerous, especially for young people. A lot of them stop thinking they are responsible for their actions, and envision that they are on a pedestal. When they are contested about this from the people they care about, they demonise those people in their little band of self righteousness on the internet – and are backed by their peers, who are equally as young and ignorant as they are.
I am certainly not saying that the generation in its entirety is like this, but give any woeful teen a platform and see what kind of a mess they make.
The internet had certainly provided a safe haven for those truly in need, to connect with others who have actually been abused or treated badly, to feel less alone in a situation where they might have been ostracised and bullied. And it is also true that vanity and vapidity were prevalent long before the internet spread its electronic tentacles into our homes.
However I still assert that despite all the good the internet has brought this society, it does not come without its negatives, and these might just be damaging to youth.