We're Not As Young As We Think
We’re constantly told that the 30s are the new 20s and that we should relax and enjoy the youthful freedom that we are allowed during this time of our lives. There’s no getting around it: we live for a long time. Ninety to 100 years is becoming more and more commonplace with each generation.
Though we may be young as far as a number is concerned, we’ve been through a lot. Sure, we’ve not lived through some of the hardships that our ancestors underwent, but we’ve been the first generation of test-rats to have grown up surrounded by computers, cell phones and publicly available social media.
It started for us at a very young age. Our earliest memories of elementary school include days of going to the “computer lab,” where we would start learning how to type or to interact with programs that urged us to create, read and write.
You were stoked out of your mind the first time your parents let you sign up for Club Penguin, and didn’t see the big deal about interacting with strangers. You were safe, because you were behind a computer screen. You learned that it was okay to break up with your CP girlfriend whenever you wanted, because she didn’t really know who you were. It was all anonymous.
Around 2005, when we were in middle and beginning of high school, we sported our trendy flip phones and got jealous of the lucky bastard whose parents bought him a Razr or Sidekick. With a 100-message limit, we got worried about how many texts we had left on our plan until the end of the month. It was a time when Myspace wasn’t creepy, when it was okay to use Comic Sans on your rainbow-background PowerPoint presentation.
We started growing up online. Teachers would assign us to read news articles, and suddenly the world shrank as we learned of what was going on outside our respective countries.
As we continued high school and many of us started college, Facebook began its reign. Younger Gen-Yers bubbled over with jealousy as their older siblings left to go to university with shiny new laptops. BBM was the only way to stay in touch with your friends, and everyone had a run in with their first “cyber-bullying” experience.
A certain loss of innocence came alongside our intimate relationship with technology. Our parents could not shield us from the atrocities of the world, because a simple Google search would give us each and every detail. Things that would otherwise remain unspoken could be communicated through text messaging (as much as they threatened to go through your phone, it never happened).
So, where does that leave us now? Living even a couple of days without our small array of gadgets doesn’t even occur to us. We’re young men and women who are constantly aware of the world around us. We feed off the success of others our own age that gained popularity through social media and strive to burn our own pathway rather than sit back and wait for an opportunity to arise.
The connections we’ve been forming since we started using social media are continuously maintained and fostered. The sheer amount of people we KNOW outnumbers any generation that has come before.
With these connections, however, comes a stronger responsibility to act a certain way. Forty years ago, you could leave a job on a bad note, travel across the country and assume that you were probably safe from any backlash that may occur as a result of your falling out.
Don Draper of "Mad Men" is a prime example. He (almost) flawlessly recreates himself as another man through an accidental swap of identity during the war. Though it always appears he is running from his past, basically no records exist that would put his secrets in jeopardy.
We have more than just our conscious daunting us about our history. We’re all over the internet. Our four years of high school are no longer a “blur.” They’re documented publicly, thus there is no way for us to erase any part of ourselves as we try to get on with our lives.
Our maturity began forming relatively early on, as we realized what type of world we live in. It’s unforgiving, impersonal and limitless. As the pioneers of this technological frontier, we boldly entered the news as lying, sexting, cheating girls and boys who abused the freedom we were given and defied our elders through means of cell phones and computers.
And though it’s clichéd to say this, we really have used our errors in judgment to better ourselves. In 2013, we are young, though we already perceive the sands of time to be slipping swiftly through the hourglass. We’ve learned how to master the lifestyle of fast-paced, competent professionals, though some of us aren’t even old enough to order a drink at weekly dinner with our coworkers.
There is something to be said for the fact that we feel comfortable and prepared enough to speak our minds on the internet, where the whole world is free to scrutinize. It’s as if we feel the weight of our own Manifest Destiny, technology-style. Though it’s not exactly accurate to claim that we are wise “beyond our years,” it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we’ve gained a certain type of knowledge that simply can’t be found in any other generation.
A breed of its own, Gen-Y is much older than it thinks.
Naomi Falk | Elite.
Photo Courtesy: Tumblr