By Erin Caine
Elm Staff Writer
Our generation has witnessed profound advancements in technology and, as a consequence perhaps, has endured criticism simply for taking advantage of these technologies. The censure and, at times, the clear misrepresentation of millennials, has come even from well-known publications such as The New York Times, “Forbes,” “Business Insider,” and The Boston Globe. The question is, how much of this criticism is really warranted? While it’s evident that Generation Y places a certain amount of dependence on electronic commodities, is that dependence truly such a great disadvantage as many would like to believe? Through these devices, are we really “disconnected” from the world around us?
Most of us have heard that common refrain from parents and teachers “put the phone away” over and over again, granted that there is a time and place to use phones and other electronic device and a time and place to be present in the world. Then again, to phrase it like that—“present in the world”—would seem to neglect the main function of social media and the Internet. After all, it’s thanks to those innovations that the concept of the world has greatly expanded since only a few decades ago. We have the advantage of being able to easily access important on-goings all around the globe, not just the information we read in the local paper or the gossip we hear around town. The massive amounts of communication that occur outside of day-to-day interactions seem only to create a more informed public than those from previous eras.
Naturally with such ease comes the issue of our vulnerability to the media. When information is literally at our fingertips it becomes a simple thing to immediately believe what we read online, to make quick judgments, and to respond to such incidents without necessarily being informed on the subject.
Rumors can circulate rapidly and reputations can sour just as quickly, even when it comes to texting. Word-of-mouth can only travel so far, but text messages are sent, replied to, and repeated to others in seconds. What really troubles many people is that the act of texting, seems to be not only misdirecting our attention but also substituting words on a screen for genuine interaction. It’s true that technology has created barriers between us through our tendency to rely heavily on online personas. Those same people seem to underestimate the merits of widespread communication.
As stated before, we are being exposed every day to information on a global scale. More importantly, we are being constantly introduced to new information, ways of thinking, and various perspectives. Despite what many prefer to believe about millennials—namely, that we are “too dependent” or as Susanne Goldstein of “The Accelerator” said, “not ready to face real challenges”—it remains a certainty that the technologies we’ve grown to rely on have enabled us to be educated about events that occur outside of our own community. Even in the past, simply informing the public about certain events has often lead to sweeping social and legislative changes in a country.
Are we disadvantaged by the technologies we use and disconnected from a genuine social experience? Perhaps our critics focus is being directed to the wrong places. Perhaps what must be observed are the intellectual effects of accessible information and worldwide interconnectedness. In that aspect, at least in our increased understanding of the world, we can claim with confidence to surpass the previous generations.