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Social Media and Generation Now

Aurora Krogh enters the debate with this pen portrait of the generation that grew up on social media as a way of life.

Awareness – you always have to be aware of everything and anything. You have to sell your soul to be famous, but the celebrities you follow on Instagram are all so glamorous. Aren’t you tempted? Wouldn’t we all like to be ‘almost famous’ in 2015?

‘Famous’ is your ticket out of the juxtaposition we all live in. A pretend-reality composed of equal parts digital displays, saturated food and happiness pills. Nothing is really real anymore. And yet it’s all documented on social media – we’ve never been more real. Look, the selfies are the evidence! But even all that the evidence isn’t re-assuring or calming. Teenage angst is a habit supported by ‘likes’ and ‘hits’.

The millennials are ruthless. These are the people alien to CDs, yet the same people have caused a resurrection of the ‘oh so dead’ vinyl market. That is the power of this daze. To look back at the old, yet marvellously blind at times – about our own times. Our new-found ability to scroll has given us the luxury of learning from not only our parents, but a much wider range of historical failure.

You aren’t learning from your own mistakes, simply because you can’t afford to make them. With the power of the World Wide Web comes responsibility. Knowledge is key and you can no longer rely on your own ignorance. ‘I didn’t know,’ will not get you anywhere. Just Google it.

This generation could have been the riot generation, and maybe it is. ‘What do you stand for?’ is a common question, all but asking for a manifesto. In 2015, it is not enough just to look alluring. You have to have an awareness. Where social media are the new streets, hashtags define a new brand of rioting. #FreeTheNipple and #BlackLivesMatters, tweet it, blog it, snap it. If it is not on Instagram, did it even happen?

Social media are saints and sinners all at once. The cost of this second virtual reality (because now even ‘the meat’ has been virtualised) is the crushing weight of impossible expectations. The corporations cash in on your misery; popping Zoloft is your causality…and you easily become a casualty.  Chemical happiness has taken over, and if you are not drugged up enough and are actually having a good time, you’d better not show it. You are coolest when you are out of your mind, though you probably would have had just as good a time anywhere worth half the effort.

Though this generation is not based on cynicism, you need a considerable sense of self-irony to survive. The deterministic view that technology drives the changes in society….has a point. But it is not just about smart phones and dumb people. It is bigger, more fluid.

Ditching the raves and acid houses of the 90s for some real good moments, which obviously must be documented on at least two social media platforms, provides the pleasures of pretence and snobbery across more than one dimension. Technology drives the patterns of our increasingly disastrous social life. You’re lucky if you have direct, unmediated experience of some real life insecurity and sadness, or what some might call an edge. The fast-paced reality and virtuality of this generation is brutal. Being a hit for a day will only mean so much until your top-notch achievement is replaced by a viral video of a kitten eating ice cream.

Generation Now is as good and as bad as it can get. The living proof of a world so contradictory it’s on the verge of being schizophrenic. They do have more pills for that though. If we ever reach 30, let us pray some valuable wisdom comes with it, or at least a good hashtag.

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