By Emily Crowl
I walk into class, clutching my cellphone. As the minutes tick by I put my phone on my desk—face-up for easy access—and pull out my laptop to web browse, or just idly flip through my tabs from the day before. The class bell rings, I check my phone one more time before parting with it for 45-50 minutes (Parting is such sweet sorrow!…Not, buh-bye time-waster). If I’m told to put away my laptop, it’s usually gone before the announcement is made—the school laptop is sub-par compared to my custom Mac. I listen, I pay attention, and look around in contempt as other people have their phones or laptops out, barely paying attention. How disrespectful, I think to myself. Honestly shocking!—the only times I ever reach for my phone in class is if there’s an emergency in my life, or if I am truly, just, bored (after the teacher is done talking, of course).
Millennials, the generation stereotyped for their obsessions over social media and auto-tuned “talents”, unheard health fads and freakish fashions, their apathy and general angst, and their marriage to anything with a screen. Scarcely does one see a teen walking, sitting, or even running without a phone anymore—it has become a necessity. Being someone who feels stuck in the “generation gap,” I tend to elude these stereotypes by avoiding them altogether. I couldn’t care less about the amount of followers I have. I hardly ever listen to the music everyone else listens to (I firmly believe pop essentially died when Michael Jackson died). I admit I am into some health fads, but you can’t blame me, avocados are good. I can’t follow fashion for my life, so I just go with what works for me. (I haven’t grasped the concept of fashion shows yet—who wears that stuff? People with too much money I suppose. Soz, I’m lacking wallet.) Apathy and angst…Well, those are the defining traits of a teenager. I didn’t think it’d happen to me, being the utterly amazing and respectful person I am, but then I realized there’re these tiny things called hormones. As for screens, I’m in a committed relationship with my iPhone 6s and Mac. But I know—”I’m not a stereotypical teenager, please, I elude these stereotypes, I’m amazing and you should listen to me.”
Society probably has much fault for that particular stereotype above the others. When the standard millennial culture emerged, we were never exposed to the other side of life absent of technology (unlike us wonderful turn-of-the-century babes, aka 2000’s baby population). We grew up in a mixed household and some of us took the long dark road following the path of developing technology ourselves, others had it forced upon us (why middle school, why?! I’m still traumatized from having to use iPads for everything), and others yet, try to avoid it at all costs. In the end, technology is inescapable, and for most, they have chosen to embrace it, since “technology is the future.” So millennials really can’t be blamed for trying to make technology fun and taking advantage of it by using entertaining apps and connecting with friends long-distance. What has made an innocent progress of the human race malignant is that people forget one teensy fact about teens—we’re highly influential and we have raging hormones and like to get addicted to things, such as that shiny, new, sleek iPhone that is coming out with these unheard of features that will improve the quality of an otherwise lonely and internet-filled life.
Instant gratification is what technology offers teens—pleasure and connection right at our fingertips. Not to mention the aesthetic features so many technologies focus on nowadays. Teenagers no longer have to wait to receive a letter, wait until next week to watch a show, go to their library to research HW, listen to the radio to find jams (or learn how to treat a vinyl record with extreme care), or wait until the next day to talk to a friend since the house line is busy. No—all of that terrible power lies within a simple device, whether it be a phone, laptop, tablet, or even T.V.
Teenagers lack appreciation for time away from devices because we are not granted the time to be away. Even now, as I write this, my phone rests on my lap. Yes, I can handle time away from my phone for a class period, but that doesn’t mean I’m not addicted. I’m not saying all teens are addicted either. How about raising adolescents to handle technology responsibly while learning to appreciate life when said technology is absent? The problem may be that the adults in charge of us are just as addicted.