The Little (Generation) That Could: Stop Faulting Our Generation for Facebook Use and Technological Advantages

I literally cannot begin to count the number of times I have stepped into a classroom on syllabus day and been relentlessly condescended upon because of the generation I belong to.

We’re lazy. We need instant gratification. We’re brats. We’re addicted to Facebook. We’re a bunch of idiots who don’t know how to write or pick up a newspaper (oh wait, what’s this weird black and white thing you’re reading right now?).

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I’m not saying they’re entirely wrong — there’s plenty of us within this generation that are somewhat lazy and seemingly incompetent, for example those that answered “yes” in my class when asked if Facebook was our primary source for news. And I’m also not saying I didn’t cringe and die a little inside as a result of this response.

However — where they are dead wrong is in our potential and the unfair assumption that because we have grown up within this beautiful, booming technology-based era, we’re somehow less than.

Sure, we make up the majority of Facebook’s users and sure, 48 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds check Facebook the moment they wake up in the morning. “Millennials are arming themselves with skills and educational training focused in technology and social media, two areas with great growth potential,” said Kate Bardaro, the lead economist for PayScale. Ouch.

And no, Facebook isn’t the only site we visit.

We live in an ever-changing world in this technological age, and as a result we have adapted. I’m not seeing a problem with that – I’d go as far as to call that talent.

Let’s move on to our “lazy” and “inadequate” qualities. According to a report by Financial Advisor last week, about 60 percent of Generation Y makes regular contributions to their retirement funds and began saving in their mid-20s as compared to 46 percent and an average age of 35 for baby boomers. Oh, but I thought we didn’t know how to save our money because we need instant gratification? That’s weird.

Shall I continue?

We’re ignorant and ignorance is bliss. We have no baggage. We hustle. We practice the fundamentals. We have something to prove. We have a willingness to learn. We remain humble. We provide an outside perspective. These are just the eight reasons Forbes blogger Jeff Schmitt describes why “Generation Y Will Soon Take Your Job”.

Because we take advantage of social media networks (just one of the largest growing job opportunity markets in the country, who knew?) and the Internet, we should not be faulted. Because we text and socialize with each other through technology, we should not be labeled as inept or with lack of skills. Our generation is equipped with a proportionate amount of lazy ones as any other — it’s just easier to see ours because the world is online. I’m pretty sure that if the baby boomers had cell phones and Google when they were growing up, they’d be on them just as much.

We have peers and friends that start charity groups online, reach out to people in other countries, have started their own businesses, and expand their cultural and educational horizons. I don’t find any of these actions or qualities to be incompetent or lazy.

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If you’re one of us, however, that solely utilizes the powerful tool of the Internet for mindless zone out time, I challenge you to expand your capabilities and prove them wrong. Spend 15 minutes a day taking advantage of your sites and apps, like the free New York Times app or flipboard — which combines your social media networks with reliable news sources.

We are not a useless generation. We have minds, we have technology and we will use that to the fullest extent possible.

Oh, did I mention that undergraduate enrollment has steadily been increasing, rising 39 percent from 1999 to 2009? Just a little statistic from the National Center for Education Statistics. Not a big deal, really.

So I ask you this: if you’re one of “them” (not part of our millennial generation) — please stop assuming and acting condescendingly toward a generation that cannot help what tools they have been provided with. I am sure it can be frustrating at times, but you were once 22 too! And if you are a part of this generation, please for my own sanity — continue to use these tools efficiently and appropriately to demonstrate the wonderful potential I have seen and know you all have.

And yes, I will go update my Facebook status about that.

Lauren Stieritz is a senior communication studies major. Her columns appear Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.