The Anxious Generation, the Plugged-In Generation
When I was a kid, things were much different than they are now. I know saying that makes me sound like one of those grouchy complainers who always takes shots at the up and coming generations, but it’s true. I remember my main sources of entertainment being going outside for the afternoon or heading to the library to load up on books. I rarely got on the computer, mostly because it would take ten minutes to crank on and make noises that always convinced me there was a chance it might explode.
It wasn’t long before the information age began and I got sucked into it, along with everyone else of the Plugged-In Generation. We had no idea at the time, but technology was quickly morphing from something we used occasionally to something that would control the course of our lives. Not all of this is bad, of course. I love being able to keep in contact with distant friends and do a random search while I’m grocery shopping if I want to know how to cook a new food that’s on sale.
But at the same time, growing up in the information age has sucked. It’s presented so many new challenges, and typically that might not even be a big problem. The biggest issue is that we as a young generation have no one to get advice or help from, because no one else has experienced rapid changes in technology like we have. I’m convinced that the pressures that the internet and social media create are leading to many of the mental health problems associated with my generation and there’s science to back that up.
We Can Never Be Without Technology
Gone are the days where you can spend a day out doing something you love like biking or shopping without interruption. I remember going home from trips out to town and my mom would check our voicemail. There’d be one, maybe two missed calls that she would return if they weren’t spam callers and she’d be done.
Now it’s like if you go out and leave your phone at home even for an hour, you’ll come back to an explosion of messages and notifications. If you’re not there for your friends when they need you, then you’re a bad friend. People expect you to have your phone and access to the internet at all times and it can be exhausting.
Social Media Stress Is Unavoidable
When you post something, do you feel embarrassed if you don’t get a certain number of likes or retweets? There’s nothing quite like the shame of sharing your thoughts and having only one or two of your online friends interact with it when you know you have hundreds of followers. You end up deleting it after feeling stressed out.
There’s also the fact that there’s always something bad happening on social media. We see constant depressing news alerts or friends posting about their stress. Some of my friends even get stressed when there’s nothing new on their feeds after refreshing because, what if they miss something?! It’s ridiculous! There are ways to combat social media stress, but there shouldn’t be so much to handle in the first place.
You Don’t Know Who to Trust
Last year in particular, it became clear to the public that the internet was being used to push falsities. These spread like wildfire on social media because they play at the fear and anger people feel. We’ve begun to doubt if we can trust anything at all, and for good reason. Nowadays, it feels like everything is an advertisement or a hidden message, and much of it is just that: undisclosed marketing or scams. When you’re growing up and forming things like your opinions and beliefs, truth means everything.
There’s Always Something to Be Judged
The information age doesn’t just affect young people while they’re growing up. It affects their futures. It makes sure that every choice a young person makes, whether it’s smart or not, has an impact on the rest of their lives. This can’t be stressed enough. I didn’t realise it until just before I started applying for my first full-time job, and more young people need to be aware.
According to a recent study, 70 percent of young people don’t know how social media affects their career, when 54 percent of employers have decided not to hire someone based on their internet presence. That means that they’re looking up not only my online resume, but also what I post on social media.
Does the warm and friendly persona they perceived of me in my interview prove to be consistent through the years? That’s what they’re looking for online. Am I a good person? If I posted stupid things during college that are contrary to who I came across as in my interview, they’re going to be less likely to trust me and hire me. Who I was that many years ago shouldn’t have an influence on my career prospects now. Everyone grows up and changes, but the information age is keeping the past from being the past.
I know there are many big benefits to being able to live in the information age. Don’t get me wrong, technology has improved lives across the board, but as someone who had to grow up in it, it’s had a lot of negative effects on my life. I know for certain that it has contributed to my anxiety, and I have many friends who attest to the same. A social media detox now and again can be a wonderful purge of the negativity that exists online. You may even find you never want to go back.
There’s so much stress that comes with growing up in the information age, and many young people don’t have the ability to vent about it or learn how to deal with their problems. Older generations judge and crack jokes, mostly because they can’t relate. It’s important for people my age to know that its okay to admit to struggling with some of the outcomes of technology. Talking about it is the only way we’re going to raise awareness and find solutions so the next generations don’t have the same problems.
Featured Photo by Priscilla Du Preez