Being a 20-something millennial in a virtual world

As I sit here and drink my tea, I ponder. Where does one begin to cover the differences between the life of a 20-something today and that of one 20 years ago.

While I can’t deny that the generations before us have faced their own fair share of difficulties along the way, I also can’t deny that today’s young adults are plagued with “new age” problems – issues that never arose prior simply because the times were different.

Cyber-bullying. Social media-induced insecurity. The constant need for affirmation.

I’ve grown up with cell phones, laptops, and the early stages of Facebook. Instagram wasn’t a thing until after I left high school (something I’m grateful for each and every day) and Snapchat wasn’t even on our radar.

While today’s youth is parading themselves across screens around the world, there’s a certain level of sadness knowing that one’s online “personality” is oftentimes more curated than one’s real personality. Nasty people are everywhere, but if they can take the perfect selfie with eyebrows “on fleek” and legs for days, then their “personality” will be validated by likes from thirsty guys and jealous girls.

By now, you can probably imagine that I’m not one of those girls. Not to say I don’t have my mean streaks (“do you even KNOW what a turn signal is!?”), but I’ve learned over the years that my success is not defined by how many people were on Instagram to like a picture of my lunch. I’ll be the first to confess that this is a newer revelation for me – I, like many, have been mesmerized by the appeal of followers and likes. It means I have friends, right? Kind of?

After several years of getting anxiety after posting a selfie that garners nine likes in the first 45 minutes (“what if it never changes from names to numbers!?”), I’ve grown to understand that there is so much more out of life than your online profiles. How much time do we collectively spend on social media? What else could be done in those precious minutes?

I’m 23 and certainly have a hell of a lot more of my twenties to go, but there’s one thing I can tell you. With your 20s, you get this weird awareness that your time is limited and, all of a sudden, every minute counts. It happened to me last week. I’m driving home and mapping out my plan of attack for my arrival. “Shower…10 minutes. Prep dinner…30 minutes. That should leave an hour for me to write and another hour to prepare for my class before I go to bed.” (OK, I lied – my man cooks so I rarely prep dinner.)

My point is that this time in my life is filled with opportunities I may never get again. It’s a time to plant the seeds from which my empire will one day grow. The way we spend our 20s acts as a foundation to the future we hope to have, so why are we spending all of our time stressing over someone unfollowing us? Let’s all get a grip and start changing the world – all you have to do is put down your phone and get out there.

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