The Facebook Generation?

Every decade, or rather every generation has a definition. The thing, the event, the idea that they will be defined by. For the 40’s kids they had World War II – the war that changed humanity, international relations, and the world, as it was known. The 60’s had music and freedom and the idea that we are all in charge of our own destinies. The 80’s saw the world, as our generation knows it being to take shape. They saw that preserving their ideas and sharing it was not just a possibility, it was a reality. The reality of Bill Gates and Microsoft. Their reality.

And now we have us. We’re the generation that hailed in the new millennium. We’re there, 2011 years after the birth of Christ. We’re the generation that is slowly beginning to be defined. But what exactly is our definition?

My generation, your generation, our generation. We grew up in the age of the Internet where finding the answer to something means that you type it into Google. Where the word pen pals seems old fashioned and yet we share ideas with billions people via blogs, social networking, and online forums without a single thought. So will that be our definition?

Facebook – we’re all on it. In fact it is now SO common that NOT being on Facebook is a statement. The kind of statement made by the hippies in the 60’s, the kind of statement made by a RAF uniform in 1941. Facebook has seeped into our lives and become the bane of our existence ever since a Harvard guy named Mark Zuckerburg came up with the idea and became the world’s youngest billionaire.

So will Mark Zuckerburg become the face of our generation? After all, he, and Facebook have done a pretty damn good job of taking what we are and representing it for us. You no longer need to share those amazing ideas and thought you have by writing a book. You just start a blog – or post a note on Facebook. Hell your thoughts don’t even have to make sense. The option is still there. You no longer need to spend time making copies of those amazing pictures you took and circulate to everyone you know. You start a Flicker account – or share them on Facebook. You no longer even need to know that much about what an old friend is doing; or know people who are still in touch with them to re-establish contact. You just type their names into Facebook. And chances are with 500 million members and counting - you’ll find them.

We don’t send out invitations to events, or even call people. We create an event on Facebook. We have the option of letting everyone know we’re creating this event or restricting it to a selected few. And that’s the beauty of what we – our generation have. Despite living in a world where in a few clicks of a mouse you know what someone is doing – we crave that exclusivity more than ever. It’s not the ‘public’ events that excite everyone, it’s the ones listed under private. It’s not the people who accepted your request, its those that haven’t. It’s not what we can see, its what we can’t and want to see.

Facebook represents us, and what the definition of our generation could be so well. We seem to be the place, the era where everyone has a chance, where women stand equal to men, where queers are respected for who they are not what their sexuality is. Where everyone is invited to the massive party that is GenY. But then you see the growth of cyber-bullying; the greater need to take a ‘good profile picture’. After all you may have been at that party, but if you aren’t tagged in any of the pictures what’s the point? She may be your best friend but if she hasn’t said so on Facebook, ya’ll don’t constantly write on each other’s walls is she really? You may be dating but it doesn’t ‘count’ unless you change your relationship status.

So what is our definition? Are we the generation that shares, where everyone has a chance, where everyone has a shot at being equal? Or we long for what we have left behind, the exclusivity, the wanting to be part of something not everyone can be, the feeling of being special? What are we GenY? What will we leave behind?


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