We Are Murderers: How Generation Y is Killing Sentimentality
As I sat on the 190 on my way to York on a Monday morning, I did a little people watching and, most unsurprisingly, it seemed everyone under the age of 25 had some technological appendage glued to their fingers or plugged into their ears. Finger tips flew across Blackberry keys and over iPhone touch screens. Music pounded out of several pairs of earphones, creating an unmelodious medley. Sing-songy chirps and the buzz of vibration added to the melee, notifying owners of text messages, BBMs, and Twitter and Facebook updates. I myself typed up this observation on my Blackberry as The Weeknd crooned through my ear buds. It’s a marked characteristic of Generation Y: we are one with our technology.
Surely we’ve all heard the rising complaints from the more aged and wise about technological dependence. They’re either warning us that our earphones will deafen us, our screens will blind us, our entertainment will numb us or our social networking will destroy our people skills. Essentially, the perspective of our parents and grandparents seems to be that the technology we’re so fond of will turn our brains to mush and have it leaking out of our ears onto our pillows.
Now, I’m often first in line to defend us and our (de)vices. I have a love-hate relationship with my Blackberry, but she’s always by my side. Enough said? Our technology has more than a few perks that our predecessors didn’t have in their youth. The mp3 player has spared us the hours of waiting, finger over the record button to capture the number 1 Beach Boys hit on cassette. Having a party? No need to waste paper and time delivering invitations. A Facebook Event will have your whole circle of friends planning out their outfits within minutes of posting the date and time. Major news hits our newsfeeds and timelines long before it hits the papers and with Google at our fingertips, a quick keyword search will confirm that yes, that famous celebrity is, in fact, dead.
We get it now, we get it fast, and we get it all in a compact little package of plastic and metal parts. We carry the world – our friends, our music, our news, our books – in our pockets and backpacks. It really is incredible how far we’ve come and really, why would we ever want to go back? Have we actually lost anything by embracing all this technology? Is our acceptance of the gadgets and gizmos a little too wholehearted?
I think the old adage rings true: all things in moderation. This doesn’t just apply to chocolate cupcakes and liquor. Technology, in too high doses has a cost. I’m not talking about cancerous radio waves and potential vision and hearing impairment (not to discount these claims since I’m no expert). But as a hopelessly sentimental person, I mourn the loss of the nostalgia that technology is slowly squeezing out of our daily lives.
Our parents and grandparents have something that we have only traces of, and something our children may never get to experience. I’m referring to the sentimental value of things like hand written letters and birthday cards, and vinyl records. We’ve exchanged this for the convenience of the impersonally paperless email and text message, and the tinny sound of music crushed down to mp3 format. Will we ever know what it’s like to pull out a box of love letters from our youth, yellowed, and perhaps, tear-stained? Probably not? And with the rise of the e-book and the e-reader, it seems we’re in danger of forsaking that lovely feeling of flipping pages and gripping the cover of a great novel between our fingers.
Is it a worthwhile trade? In our fast-paced world where things can’t wait, it seems convenience far outweighs sentimentality. I doubt we could bear to return to the days of snail mail and music in a format bigger than a dinner plate. It’s simply too slow and tedious. The world has moved on. The Gen Yer is a creature of speed and efficiency, and it seems to be working for us. Sentimentality might just become a thing of the past like cassettes and floppy disks. And the pain of its loss will likely hurt a lot less and last for a much shorter time than a cupcake tummy ache or a tequila hangover.