“The awareness of the internet’s cruelty and addictive nature has manifested itself into the psyche of Gen Zers with alarming speed”
Swathes of Generation Z are acutely aware of the watchful eye of Big Tech, of social media apps breathing down our throats and removing our ability to say ‘no’ to their advances. The allure of a tech-savvy lifestyle does not hold the same appeal for younger generations as it did a decade ago or so.
The awareness of the internet’s cruelty and addictive nature has manifested itself into the psyche of Gen Zers with alarming speed (in most cases due to first-hand experiences). Pollsters continue to reveal the steady decline in the number of young people who say that ‘social media is important’ to them. But can these trends manifest themselves into something greater? A revolution of sorts against Big Tech from the bottom-up? In our current frail capacity to turn away from compulsive scrolling, soaring procrastination, and dwindling self-esteem, one would certainly hope so.
For many, social media was something that had to be learned and improved upon, a new novelty of sorts. Gen Z did not have to acquire any such skills – they grew up with the concept of smartphone apps and online lives. ‘Breaking into’ the skillset of technology and social media never had to be obtained for our generation, but perhaps the ‘breaking out’ of it is the necessary response. To suggest that younger people would become totally averse to the presence of technology is absurd. We are fully aware of the necessary and positive contributions it has made to society. However, it is the highly addictive algorithms utilised by profiteering tech companies, the invasion of personal privacy, and the pressures of an omnipresent internet culture that has driven large groups of younger people to mount a rebellion against Big Tech.
The manifestations of new anxieties and a dependency on social media make it difficult to remove ourselves from its hold. While we may acknowledge our addictions and the evils of certain online applications, we still struggle to take the leap and rebel.
The seedlings of new hope have been planted by those youngsters willing to go against the trend of conforming to Big Tech’s grasp on our daily lives. After all, we are the generation who contributed in leaps and bounds to the flourishing of social media. Who is to say we cannot be the ones to simultaneously transform it for the better? Keep scrolling, and perhaps we’ll find the answer.
First published Online, March 2021. Volume 16, Issue 3. Image: Feminine Stereotypes, Romina Bassu, 2017