So I was in a queuing line for bathroom at a local, hipster cafe in my hometown in Indonesia and chatters around me got to my ear (not by mistake). Because the spaces are tight between one spot to another, I could perfectly hear what these age 15 to 22 years old students were buzzing about:
Their friends, cute guys, what filter they should use for picture of the place’s beautiful plating of pasta.
I couldn’t help but noticing the clothes they were wearing. All straight from the said trending style. Don’t get me wrong; I love watching fashion trends it’s practically my guilty pleasure to copy a street style displayed on one of the Pinterest accounts I followed and buying clothes as soon as I got my paycheck. And nothing is wrong with that.
Then, I started to think to myself: I am a part of that generation. I’m in my 20s, I’m constantly on my social media, unashamed to share the very personal details of my daily lives on Snapchat, taking pictures and flaunting my cool friends on Path; I’m practically these chitchatters of nonsense. I’m shallow.
“No,” I said to myself, “I beg to differ.”
Let’s see where I can make sense of them first.
Their ideals of what is cool distort the idea of loving ourselves and being comfortable in our own skin. Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away by what other people think is cool, and believe me, I’ve got a 19 years old’s sister to prove that. She would wear what these popular girls on Instagram wear on her posts, and would try to mimic the pose and use the same filter. She would buy clothes that are only for one time use and for that one cool shot that needs to be put up on her account for everyone to see and she would not wear them again, ever. I want to tell her so bad that it’s not cool to be someone you’re not, but maybe it is what she likes to be. Maybe that is what I was doing in my 19, too. Maybe it’s just a phase, maybe it’s forever, and as long as you feel okay doing it, maybe it is you.
What they ideally talk about is something that would interest their peers, but not what really ignites themselves as a personality, and that’s a total shame. But then again, at that said age, most of us don’t know what we want to do in our lives, so we just swim according to the stream, not creating, only consuming and commenting. Nobody can blame us, because it’s (duh) what we do. It is what gets us going in a group of people that we want to like us, it is what makes us interesting. Tuning in to such conversation is not shallow, it’s sometimes just our choice of survival. Nobody wants to be judged.
Now, let’s see how I beg to really differ.
We can all be millennials and relate to them so much, but we can all make a difference being in this social media-induced colony. I would tell my daughter (or son, but my personal sentiment always shifts towards a daughter) to read more books, see more indie movies, write, find herself in an unexpected conversation and make true friends. This way, she will not be trapped in the distorted ideals of millennials. This way, she and her friends would have something to discuss more than just other people’s Snapchats’s posts. This way, she will consume something on the Internet that will tickle her to contribute and create, be inspired to do real things. This way, she will love herself. And that’s the most important thing that often gets passed on when you’re a millennial.
When we choose to get involved and start to care more, any platform we spend our time on will be a reminder that we need to do something and be something. Us millennials, we always want to be heard, to be seen, to be worshiped for our outer appearances, our witty comments, our choices of posts to share on Facebook or retweets on Twitter, or what songs we listened to on Path, so everyone can see that we’re smart and caring for issues most people don’t. It’s cool to like something that other people don’t, we think. The more we don’t conform to the ideal standard and what everyone else is doing, the better (guilty!). This brings us to two kinds of millennials; the ones that follow what’s cool, and the ones that try so hard to show others that they’re different from their choices. Which one are you? It will be a lie if you say neither, though.
So, instead of waiting and eagerly searching on something to comment and to tag and to share, observe and absorb and learn. Share things that would cheer someone’s day and would remind them how much they mean to us. Share things that provoke yourselves to do something and not just make the post viral so people can see how thoughtful you are. Post things that aren’t whining, but enlightening without pomposity. Sit down and listen more on face to face meeting, stop being the attention seeking-talker and listen more with eye contact. Be this kind of millennials that know when to detach, when to attach.
Also, when we stop caring too much about what others think of our social media’s self, that’s when we begin to grow up. Sadly, any social media we’re on mostly endorses us to do so. It’s hard to stop using it for the sake of building an image, a brand we most want to be associated with when it comes to social media. I personally think the only solution to this addiction is to write and read, enjoy something for yourselves and not always sharing it and ended up spamming timelines. Take a second to think before posting, whether you’re doing this for you, or for everyone else to see you for who you want to be recognized and labeled as.
Click, read, and share it on a personal chat is suggested. In a long run, you will see how this simple move will impact the real relationships you have with whom these things on social media you share, not just on public wall-to-wall and timeline-to-timeline that tend to parade your under desire to look cool and relevant.
So, yes, we are in this millennials thing together. But, there shouldn’t be any standard to make us forget who we really are, even when the standard is created by people we want to hang out with. We can be on these social platforms 24/7, and still be relevant and know our limits. When it’s no longer our true selves we represent, it’s time to retreat. In the end, what matters most is the things which we can’t see: the reliable connections and skins in which we’re most comfortable.