James Dean can now retire his red windbreaker and Judd Nelson can begin to lower his defiant fist because the dissatisfaction of the contemporary youth has reached gross levels of cynicism. The sexually repressed kids of the late ’50s/early ’60s and the stereotypical angst of the privileged ’80s teens has now given way to the excessively self-involved and nosy adolescents of modern America.
It seems that nearly everyone the world over is on Facebook. It has probably been the largest advancement in interconnectedness and open conversation since the mass embrace of the telephone. So why is it that every time I talk to my friends about the social media site, the overwhelming consensus as of late has been that this juggernaut of friendship gives them an unwanted inferiority complex.
The saddest and truest statement I have ever heard about Facebook came out of my thirteen year-old cousin’s mouth, “Whenever I go on, I see that all my friends are having way more fun than me. Then I kinda get sad. Then I kinda get mad. Then I log out, but then I always log back on.”
I tried to explain to her that her “friends” get to pick and choose what people see online; they can manipulate how others view them, their lives and talents. I tried explaining to her that the girl who incessantly posts about her boyfriend and whose status updates are all Marilyn Monroe quotes is probably dissatisfied with her relationship. And I also tried telling her that the guy with the backwards baseball cap who took a picture of himself in his bathroom mirror without a shirt on is probably not a solid dating prospect. I hope the latter really hit home.
I have started to come to the conclusion that life (and I use the word “life” loosely) online is now viewed through an artificial, Instagrammed lens that is keeping the Internet-mongers from properly discerning reality by distracting these individuals with over-exposed, grainy pictures of the truth. The worlds that are being crafted online are delving farther and farther into the realm of fiction while, simultaneously, those who subscribe to this school of mistaken information are beginning to believe these narratives to be fact. A site that’s layout was once optimal for companionship seems to have now, in the most tragic of reversals, be promoting alienation.
I feel like I have traveled down a rabbit hole following the promise of friendship, but somewhere along the way I got sidetracked and am now stuck at a never-ending tea party of perpetual status updates attended by the mad-hatter who is “checking us in” and the Cheshire Cat taking selfies with his Android. I have been through the looking glass and what awaits on the other side is a subdivision of misled children, who are deceived into believing that they have not accomplished something until the online community views, acknowledges and responds to said accomplishment. But these misguided many don’t want a gold star or a pat on the back; they want something far more tangible and visceral. They want the jealously of their peers. And this is, kind of, really sickening. If you need proof of this observation please look to the recently popularized Rich Kids of Instagram blog.
I believe this upcoming generation has the ability to become the most tolerant and forgiving group of inspired individuals and will bring new promise to philanthropic living. Unfortunately, these admirable qualities are currently being overshadowed by the hysteria of obtaining a steady flow of useless information about an average 359 “friends,” the likes of which include that one guy who sat next to you in 3rd grade.
I am not attacking Facebook, nor will I ever attack Facebook. I AM ATTACKING the ever-increasing mindset that is becoming all too common amongst the Facebook legionaries. At its worst, if this psychosis goes undiagnosed and unchallenged, this generation will wallow in self-pity and misinformation, pining for an existence that is about as real as Kate Gosselin’s dancing ability – which seems pretty nonexistent. Or, what will be truly devastating is if they begin to believe their own lies, blurring the already thin line that separates our cyber-selves from the personalities that exist outside the software. Though I am not sure which is worse, those who post overly embellished jabber clearly trying to bolster up their self-esteem or those who feed off and comment on the steady supply of exaggerated nonsense, giving the former the emotional high that they wanted. It is a messed up, two-way street of egos and self-depreciation. And this road dead-ends at corner of vanity and mediocrity.
I know that the type of person(s) that I have described may not be the majority on Facebook, but it is impossible to deny that this has been an increasing trend. And I also know that I have spoken in hyperboles throughout much of this article, but that is because I am scared- terrified, at times. So I am not speaking as an isolated, overly-opinionated vigilante, but as a girl who is concerned about the mental well-being of the world she inhabits.
I wonder; does fun for the sake of fun still exist? Or are we are all just holding a pose, waiting for our next profile picture, so that we can prove to everyone else that we are having a good time?
Featured image via imagehaul.com