Technology: The Millennial’s cross to bear

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” – Aldous Huxley

In 2013, an estimated $2.1 trillion was spent on technology worldwide. Technology is everywhere now; it is so deeply integrated in our culture that even toddlers know how to operate an iPhone.

Millennials often bear the brunt of any and all tech-related cultural criticism, Generation Y is labeled as the tech-obsessed generation, the generation that can’t get off their phones and the generation that doesn’t know how to interact with other people.

 

 

To equate the terms “millennial” and “technology” and subsequently blame our tech-saturated culture on Generation Y is equivalent to blaming World War II on the baby boomers.

Millennials are a product of our environment. Twenty-somethings were the last generation to learn cursive in grade school and the first to experience IT curriculums. Millennials have been spoon-fed technological development since they were kids. The progress that has occurred between the early 1990s and now is unparalleled. While that has come with benefits, the consequences have manifested themselves through the millennials.

The current attitude that surrounds technology has been handed down to this generation by the one that preceded it; a generation that saw the possibilities of technology and became obsessed with it. Technological inundation is not a product of millennials, it is a burden they have to bear.

There was a whole generation who came before us who fantasized about space travel, flying cars, light sabers and time travel. There was a generation of kids who were creative and worked long hours in garages to create the technology we have now.

Millennials, and the generation that will succeed them, have been told over and over again that technology is the answer. The message that technology will replace paper, pencils, mail, books and everything else has been shouted repeatedly into the face of the millennials.

Technological literacy is the indicator of intellectual prowess — at least, that’s what has been told to us.

All the while, humanity is suffering in the face of an LED screen. Technology is so deeply integrated in our culture that it is nearly impossible to survive without it. Google accounts, Facebook accounts and countless other accounts give people new names and identities, identities that require constant maintenance.

Technology has evolved from a means by which quality of life can be improved into the a tool that ultimately complicates life and takes the power out of the hands of the people.

The NSA keep tabs on your activity. Amazon and Google track your Internet usage to sell you products and place advertisements. Facebook knows more about you and your relationships than you do.

Technology has tied our hands and feet, put a screen in front of our face and headphones in our ears, and then dragged us backwards. The worst part is that millennials are being criticized for this.

There is a serious difference in the way that the media portrays millennials and the way millennials actually feel about technology. A few weeks ago, a professor was asking a class I’m in if they wanted another online exam like the one we had just taken.

The result was 180 voices saying no in unison. The professor was bewildered and confused. She said that she had been told that we loved technology and online tests. Students responded saying that it was invasive and creepy; that it felt less real than taking a test.

This is just one instance of the identity paradox that millennials feel. All over the country, the youth is slowly starting to realize the limitations of technology and turning away from it. Vinyl record sales are the highest since the 1980s and the appeal of bohemian simplicity has swept the country.

While there are 40-somethings experiencing midlife crisis the world over, millennials everywhere will start feeling a serious identity crisis. As they start to realize that there is a trade off between personal space and freedom and access to technology, the youth of the world will have to start making decisions about what data they make accessible.

This identity crisis will hopefully open the eyes of a generation. This crisis will open our eyes to the fact that technology cannot be everything that the generations before us wanted. There are more than enough studies to prove technology does not help learning, it does not facilitate personal growth and it is not safe.

While technology is able to help and the advent of computers has been revolutionary, there are limitations. Whereas the generation before the millennials decided that technology would be the end-all-be-all, the millennials will be the generation that realizes the limitations of technology and starts to seriously push back.

Reach the columnist at jpbohann@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @JordanBohannon

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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