By Olivia Loggia and Erin Malley
Have you slipped hashtags into your everyday dialect? Are you someone who has more conversations over Snapchat than in person? Do you find yourself retweeting things people say, even when you’re not on Twitter?
Welcome to Generation Z...or should we say Generation Me?
Unlike any other generation, Generation Zers, born from the mid-90s through the early ’00s, have grown up with technology. To say Generation Z is tech savvy would be an understatement—technology is to Generation Z as sunlight is to a plant. Integral. According to americanpressinstitute.org, 7 in 10 people under 30 years old said they learned news through social media in the last week compared to only 1 in 5 adults 60 or older. Evidently, there’s a generational curve to social media consumption. Moreover, 95 percent of Generation Zers are online, and 81 percent of online teens use some kind of social media according to pewinternet.org.
But teenagers don’t just use social media frequently. They use it excessively. According to cnn.com, teenagers spend about nine hours on social media on any given day.
Creating Our Own Content
Social media undeniably plays a critical role in how younger people receive and share news. However, unlike other media sources in which the news tends to be universal, the primary content of social media is ourselves. Whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter, individuals are able to share endless details about their personal lives, ultimately creating “the most unfiltered view of real life,” according to mashable.com.
As a regular user of social media, Science Teacher Mr. Daniel Ramalho thinks people choose to share information on social media for the same reason others write books about their lives. Except for one key difference: “It’s a whole lot easier to tell your story 140 characters and a picture at a time,” Ramalho said.
From posting dramatic selfies to uploading staged candids, teenagers don’t shy away from sharing every detail of their lives on social media. However, this often isn’t driven by narcissism but rather has a purpose, according to senior Jack Conrad. A WHS Snapchatting legend himself, Conrad says he just wants to make people laugh with his Snapchat videos. For a closer look at Conrad’s Snapchat expertise, see the sidebar.
Why do we absorb other people’s media?
Why is it that we want to watch our friend lip-synching the lyrics to “What Do You Mean?” on Snapchat? Why do we care about seeing the selfie posted by that person we talked to that one time in that one place? Why do we need to read the status of our distant aunt who updates Facebook each day about her daily dog walks?
According to cnn.com, 61 percent of teens want to see if their online posts are receiving likes and comments and 36 percent are curious if their friends are doing things without them.
But according to several WHS students, these are not the only reasons they use social media. Some students find themselves using social media to compare themselves to others. Junior Alex Jackman said: “I think I subconsciously am comparing what I’m doing to other people. I feel like that’s a lot of what social media is, comparing your life to other people’s.”
Moreover, some students view social media as inspiration for their latest #ootd. Senior Rachel Geskin said: “I like to just scroll through [Instagram] and look at random peoples’ pictures and either see how they edit them or what they’re doing. [They give me] ideas.”
While some teenagers are able to offer definitive explanations for their social media use, others can’t justify it. Describing his personal social media experiences, sophomore Tyler Hoffman simply said, “It’s just fun.”
Though not all of us are able to explain what it is about social media that we find so compelling, one thing is for sure—we all “like” it.