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Social Media Backlash

There’s always been a difference of opinions between generations; that’s existed forever; it’s normal and natural. One of the things I have always loved about OffBeat is that I have the ability to work with people who are a lot younger than I am. I love their ideas, their fresh energy, and curiosity, even their naivete.

The people in their twenties that I used to work with when OffBeat first started 30 years ago had so much energy. They worked really hard and were passionate about what they did, whether it was writing, or selling advertising or volunteering. It was energizing and refreshing to be around them. They also had a certain respect for people who were older than they were. Of course poor twenty-somethings now get out of college with massive student loan debt; their parents never let them screw up (and  constantly rescued them)—so they are used to feeling like winners when they haven’t really accomplished anything. But it’s hard to find and keep a job when you always think you are smarter than everyone else (what do they know? They were always told they were the kings and queens of the world.)

The first OffBeat staff also had a much longer attention span than twenty-somethings today, which means that they knew they had to work hard and put in some time doing work they didn’t necessarily like. It takes time to become proficient and really good at what you do. Any musician can attest to that. If you don’t practice and play a helluva lot, well, you won’t become a great musician. It takes work. It also helps if you are mentored by an older musician who can teach you stuff, and help you learn the ropes. It’s a fruitful mentoring situation that’s gratifying to the mentor and extremely beneficial for the mentee. That’s just the way it is.

I always attributed the proverbial generation gap for young peoples’ attitudes towards their elders. Hey, I was the same way. Most of us are. But the gap has definitely widened, and not very subtly. “Millennials” has almost become a pejorative term (I agree that stereotyping an entire generation is just the wrong thing to do). I have observed, though, that many members of this generation have no respect whatsoever towards anyone who’s older. Especially so-called “baby boomers.” Both generations blame the other for all of their problems.

I have also observed that there seems to be a much prolonged length of adolescence in a lot of young people, and it’s a phenomenon that’s trending older, too. I think it’s because of social media.

Social media has also created a culture of perpetual adolescents, and they’re not just millennials either. When you’re an adolescent, you’re on your way to becoming an adult and you lose your primal connection to your parents, and seek the approval of your peer group at all costs. This is what social media has done to us all. Why do we put so much time and energy towards the lust for approval from social media, from people we barely even know?

I just don’t get it. There was an interview with a former Facebook exec that stirred up some controversy, and it totally understand what he’s saying. We’re devolving into less than humans because we are losing the ability to socialize, converse in person without enmity, and create real lasting relationships through personal interactions. Moreover, social media has achieved such power (and believe me, someone is making a ton of money by turning us all into dopamine-click addicts) that it can–and has–literally destroyed people and businesses as well. It’s the unchecked power of the mob, and the perceived power, that’s making social media companies richer than God and ruining a lot of good brains.

Interestingly, Facebook actually issued a statement defending itself. Hmm….I sense some growing backlash against social media culture that creates zombies whose self-esteem depends on whether or not they get “likes,” and people who would rather bask in the bullying power of the mob mentality.

It’s about time.

  • Steve

    I totally agree! I don’t waste one minute on social media, I DO however have many friends that I “talk” to on a regular basis in person or on the phone when physical distance separates us….but maybe that’s because I’m a “boomer”…?