Azja Stroud ‘16 – The little rush of confidence that trails behind the notification banner of a post being liked is embarrassingly familiar to all of us. The half-sigh of relief when you see that the notification is from that certain someone you’d hoped would double tap their thumb over your 34th try at selfie-ing is something we’re all guilty of. It’s a feeling that we all are accustomed to, it’s become our version of normal. Our parents grew up being told to “come back home when the street lights turn on”, and here we are standing behind windows to utilize the lighting for internet posts.

The willow filter, the “duck face”, the oh-so popular peace sign; these are all things that we witness as we scroll up and down our social media feeds. As we think deeper than just the surface of a lit-up glass screen, a similar question surfaces… Why do we care? Why is this handheld generation obsessed with how they are viewed by others?

Of course, we all have those “I look okay, right?” moments. Everyone regardless of age, gender, and social status does. But it seems that now this constant access to the opinion of the entire world has forced this mentality to skyrocket. The lighting, the angle, the focus; it’s all adjusted now so that our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts are edited and photoshopped to the same extreme that celebrities on magazine covers endure.

“Our generation is definitely too media absorbed. Not only do we allow it to directly affect both our moods and lifestyles, but we let if fully control our cognitive minds,” Reagan Irey ‘15 said. “It’s insane how often you have to jump through hoops to try and get someone’s attention who’s glued to their phone.”

It’s a constant thought process, “How will everyone react when they see this?” After every tweet, every post, and every update, stop and ask yourself what the point is. We are media-absorbed sponges, soaking in a pool of confidence and self-consciousness fluctuating based off of a number of likes and retweets.

“Well, yeah we’re media obsessed, but it depends on the person; there’s people I know who really aren’t even active on social media at all,” Mackenzie Sprecher ‘16 said. “For the most part our generation is absorbed with not necessarily looking good, but more so acting like you look good.”

These insta-standards have created a new category of insecurities, a whole new battle to fight against. In a world where media popularity is everything, our self-esteem is seriously affected when we get less than 10 retweets and 30 likes. Likes and retweets… What? What’s going to happen to our children, will they shout insults and abandon those who stray from social media? The long term effect of this current criteria can determine whether or not you receive a job—opportunities can be lost based solely off of your cyber past. That’s an issue. The personal texture that makes us beautiful and unique is deteriorating; we’re losing ourselves to wifi passwords. At what cost will we take a step back and realize that we’ve branched out too far from our roots?

“I wholeheartedly believe this generation is extremely media obsessed; we’ve started to communicate through a screen,” Jordan Lampton ‘16 said. “Who knows what it’s going to be like in ten years if this is already what it’s like now?”

Is it simply because of circumstance that each generation differs from one to the next? The fact of the matter is that, as a whole, our opinion of each other is now almost completely based off of a scale that didn’t even exist five years ago. You can’t see a person’s personality through an Instagram selfie; shouldn’t that be what ultimately matters? Our character—who we are as people—where does that come into play?

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