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Millennials Got A Raw Deal With Social Media

Essena O’Neill quitting social media is making a splash. And why wouldn’t it? It speaks to something we inherently knows is true. Social Media is mediated. It is a farce.

David Cohn
Nov 3, 2015 · 5 min read

I wrote a post to the same effect in 2013. It was actually in the aftermath of the Justine Sacco “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Twitter-storm.

Socializing on the internet is to real social activity as reality television is to actual reality.

Let’s add another element to this conversation.

Generations

(Ideas on what generations deem as success is informed by a talk by Clint! Runge)

Generation X found success in owning stuff.

This is why Fight Club resonated so strongly.

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Millennials have defined success as owning social relationships.

Let that sink in for a moment…….

Success is about owning social relationships.

In a conversation with my friend Andrew Haeg we came to the conclusion that Millennials have been born into a time where they must bear the brunt of social media anxiety.

They are the first to see the world through a social lens where every moment is harnessed for sharing. There is a debt of social activity they must constantly keep up with. Have I read all the Facebook posts? Did I see all the Instagram photos? Have I let my social network down?

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The emergence of mass production led to abundance. But eventually left us with psychological and environmental externalities. Millennials have lived through the age of mass production of social capital. We have experienced the abundance and commodification. And we aren’t sure exactly what it all amounts to. What does a Millennial Fight Club look like? What are the externalities?

Why do I switch between talking about Millennials as one and sometimes as an observer? Read the section “On Generations” below. I have never felt truly Millennial or Gen X.

And I should note with the headline “Millennials Got A Raw Deal” that doesn’t mean social media is bad in and of itself. It has benefits for society. Just like mass production does. The abundance is something we wouldn’t want to give up. And over time, perhaps a balance can be struck.

And what about Gen Z

The next generation doesn’t need to answer the question “who am I.” Their identity has already been created online by their parents. Their photos already posted. Their jokes already delivered.

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Success to the next generation will be in owning experiences.

Generational Theory

Everyone wants to know how to tap into “the kids.” It’s where the money supposedly is. One of the most important things to keep in mind. EVERY generation is rebelling. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

But if they are rebelling against their Gen X parents, their form of rebellion may look like social responsibility and maturity. What generation raises you has a BIG impact on how you turn out — on how you rebel.

And every generation goes through life phases. Gen Xers were rebels without a cause when they were younger. Now they are in their prime earning years. When they are supposed to be the workers and managers of society. Meanwhile the Boomers are moving into the later stages of life, where their value to society is in being wise sages.

All this is just to point out the framework by which I think about the play between generations. This is very inspired by Strauss-Howe Generational Theory.

Want a skeptical look at the world — check out my newsletter below.

*Before you respond keep in mind the caveat “not all” applies whenever talking about a generation. “NOT ALL” millennias or Gen Xers, etc have certain traits.

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Published in #SWLH (Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking)

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The Startup

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David Cohn

Written by

Senior Director at Advance Publications innovation group. Twitter: @digidave or http://blog.digidave.org Do what I can to help. Also, I love you.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

David Cohn

Written by

Senior Director at Advance Publications innovation group. Twitter: @digidave or http://blog.digidave.org Do what I can to help. Also, I love you.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

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