Updated: Oct 3
A story about a millennial caught my attention
She married someone at 21 but didn’t want to live with him, nor had she told her family about him. She loved him before they married but believed herself to be incapable of feeling love “in its gentler, post-honeymoon form”. In this access-all-areas life that so many of us have slipped into via Instagram and other platforms, there is the feeling our lives ought to be fantastic every single minute of every single day. Twenty-first-century life has created drama junkies, pining for everything, satisfied with nothing. One bad day at work and millennials want to jack their whole career in. A single setback can seem like the end is nigh.
Simon Sinek said millennials are tough to manage and are accused of being entitled, and that we are growing up in a Facebook Instagram world and are good at putting filters on things, that life is amazing – even though I’m depressed! Watch Sinek’s YouTube video about the ‘Millennial Question‘ [Dec2016].
Prescribing quiet. Boringness. Positive mundanity. Stop to experience the simple pleasures – a mooch around a good art gallery without bragging about it on social media, remove ourselves from our laptops to read the Sunday papers for hours – and in writing this I admit I haven’t bought a newspaper in a very long time – listen to good music while doing the hobby we enjoy . Whatever it is, give ourselves a chance to think and enjoy being away from the drama, tedium, mundane. If we like ourselves during the dull moments, we’ll be less afraid to enjoy them with someone else.
I asked my 18 year old niece for her thoughts and her observations about her own relationship with social media versus those of her parents, are different.
Communicating today versus what was available for my parents – Tara shares her thoughts
The generations that grow up in the time of social media will inevitably experience childhoods very different to that of their parents. Instead of being able to chat to anyone from the comfort of a bed, the older generations would have had to call their friends from a landline or bike to their houses to catch up. Whilst kids growing up nowadays seem to put so much energy into achieving a ‘good’ social media presence, the older generations were left to leave most aspects of other’s lives to the imagination. Whilst we can now (whether we like to or not) infer people’s traits through their online persona, the older generations would only find out about others through meeting them in person. When another source of validation is available through the number of likes or followers on a screen, it is expected that some of the younger generations are accused of being entitled.
The existence of social media means that immediate fulfilment is available with the click of a button – why go outside to the park if you can get similar enjoyment from the comfort of your bed? Whilst these quick distractions provide short-term fulfilment, they may make us numb to the simple pleasures of life. I will be less likely to hear the birds in the garden if I’m watching something on my phone. I’ll be less likely to realise the value of myself and those around me if there is always someone better to compare them to on my hand-held device. Or at an art exhibition, we are more likely to spend time deciding which angle is picture-perfect for the Instagram, instead of appreciating the art in its unedited, real-life form. Because, when viewing all aspects of life through a half-lens, never devoting our full appreciation to the things around us, everything will appear mundane and boring.
After spending time filtering pictures of our lives before posting them on social media, we would inevitably think that the reality is dull and colourless in comparison. And, although the online version is a fallacy, it appears more appealing. So, we start to live vicariously through our online selves, not learning to enjoy life as it is, real and unfiltered, but trying to capture it and filter it, for this online record of our lives that we may feel we need to uphold.
It is only in appreciating the ‘boring’ aspects of life, that the days start to get interesting, and feel like they are worth living.
If we, growing up in a time of social media, take each other’s online selves as accurate representations of our lives, we will never learn to appreciate the mundanities of life, as only the exciting things, worthy of posting, will receive our attention. Yet, I think it is only in appreciating the ‘boring’ aspects of life, that the days start to get interesting, and feel like they are worth living.
Thank you, Tara.