The world is having a hard time labeling my generation. There were Millennials. There was Gen X. There were Baby Boomers. All clear labels for entire generations of people living in, what seems like, more stable times. (Because, yeah, from where my friends and I stand- the world sure does seem like a mess at the moment.)
But according to Wikipedia, Gen Z is also known as iGeneration and Post-Millennials, Gen Tech, or even “Plurals.” Whatever the label, it’s safe to say that kids born in the late 90s to early 2000s don’t really care what we’re called as a group for marketing purposes. But I for one am not surprised that we’re tough to categorize: most of my friends are fluid and multiracial. So we tend to look at people for who they are and what their interests are, rather than what boxes they checked on their school-registration forms.
I was 7, just learning to form my own thoughts when Obama took office. He was the only president I’d ever known as I entered my school years. Now, Trump is in office so it’s safe to say we’ve seen two different extremes when it comes to leadership styles.
When my parents wanted to distract me as a small kid in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, they put a phone or tablet into my hand, and ran my favorite episode of Dora the Explorer (a cartoon about a Mexican adventurer…yay! diversity!) or fired up a fun game for me to play (Snake on Nokia was a favorite). It wasn’t very long (about 5th or 6th grade) before I had a device of my own, as a safety measure in case I missed the school bus or just so I had a way to reach my parents in an emergency. (Every school shooting seems to inspire parents to add a line to their mobile account for their kid if they hadn’t done so already- and there are great deals on Family Plans from most providers, so why not, right?)
I’m sure it’s safe to say that my generation has been among the first to have a mobile device in hand from, pretty much birth and, depending on who you ask, it’s either destroying the planet or – maybe- just maybe it’s the reason we’re so informed and thus hard to “classify.” (The more you know about what’s possible, the easier it is to realize your truth and identity, in my opinion. Possibilities are less…rigid.) Just a thought.
I’ve had every resource available on the Internet at my fingertips from the time I was old enough to launch a browser. Of course, that means I’ve had access to inaccurate and unsafe information as well. But I was always supervised and taught what to do in weird or unwanted circumstances. But I think it is good that a mobile digital world makes the planet a little smaller and turns the Earth into a global community where we can all share and empathize- kinda like we are doing now. I play video games with kids who live everywhere from Texas to Dubai; all people I would have never spoken to if not for technology. I have instant access to news thanks to social media and everything– good and bad- travels at the speed of light.
But sometimes, everything-all-at-once is too much. Having the world literally at your fingertips is…not necessary all the time. There are times when I intentionally leave my phone in another room while I practice my guitar or watch a movie with my aunt or leave my phone home when I am going out to dinner with my family. My aunt told me the other day that some people develop addictions to social media and their mobile devices. If you feel like I could be describing you there, I ask you not to forget to look up from your phone or computer now and then because the world is beautiful and full of more love than it might seem like there is in the news or social media. Another fun fact, I read that changing your phone’s screen from color to grayscale could help break the addiction.
What are YOUR thoughts on the World Wide Web and mobile devices? Do you feel like you suffer from information overload sometimes? Would you change your color screen to grayscale to see how it impacts your behaviors? Might be worth a shot, since according to the article I linked above, “the average American clicks, taps or swipes on their smartphone screen more than 2,600 times a day, with some reaching an astonishing 5,400 times.” So, I dare you to try unplugging every now and then. You just might see something beautiful or make a new friend… in real life.