We are the swiping generation. We put people in boxes but we just call them phones now. We ask for data points rather than stories. We ask for facts rather than feelings. We demand people define themselves over and over and over when we all know 140 characters can’t fit even a fragment of ourselves. Good thing there’s no limit to the amount of tweets we can send out into the world.
We are high on dopamine spikes from likes, comments, views. We consume all day the highlight reels of life after life to the point that we feel an urge to create our own. We follow our best friends, celebrities, and strangers alike with no distinction between them. We scroll onward unaware as they take up the same screen space and head space. We become numb to their daily company yet don’t say hi when we pass them by in person. The strangest part? We think we know the lives of the people we follow even if we haven’t spoken in years (or at all). We follow anyway like lost puppies. We believe like true believers.
We try and we try to slowly carve ourselves into something. A false sense of fulfillment washes over us as we do so. We pour and we pour only to find we’re pouring air instead of water and our cups ran dry months ago. We don’t notice – we’re too busy looking at our phones. In moments where we disconnect, we are left empty and confused not understanding how after so much careful crafting and clever captioning our digital lives look so foreign. The other side is always shown to us and no amount of saturation or contrast can seem to make our grass feel green enough.
We are creating the desensitization nation one BREAKING news moment at a time. We traded in fight or flight for scan and swipe. 5 seconds for the 50 people killed in [enter disaster here]. Copy and paste. Nothing catches our attention because our attention isn’t ours anymore. When pain knocks on our door, we’re shocked despite having witnessed the same situation play out countless times day in and day out to others. We cry out for help only for others to swipe right over our headlines.
We have access to more information than ever before. Others have access to more information about us than ever before. It sometimes feels like we’re at a standstill.
From time to time, we try to gather our disjointed fragments of our scattered digital footprint found across accounts with old email addresses and forgotten logins locking us away. The people we were are frozen in time in a way only those leftover from Mt. Vesuvius understand. We walk amongst these former selves unable to delete them – we can see who we were but we ironically can’t access who that person was. It’s technological purgatory. We are left with a humorous and horrifying online museum of ourselves that not even we can curate. In any case, we can hardly romanticize the past when it has such poor grammar and always seems to be overly dramatic.
Hi, future Anne. It’s me – another frozen, embarrassing moment. I hope this makes you smile. I have a feeling you’ll need it.