I was initially indifferent over the newest craze of Pokémon Go. Controversy ahoy was soon had, with various trespassing and privacy issues percolating into various news conglomerates, regaling tales of Pokémon Goers trying to catch ’em all. Amusement quickly turned to disgust for me when I heard that the game had Pokéstops at the Holocaust Museum, Hiroshima Memorial and Ground Zero. These areas have only recently been removed from the game, after weeks of outrage and complaints from the (sane) public. The gamers that thought it was appropriate to play any game whatsoever at say, Ground Zero, is the cause of my critique of Pokémon Go, which seems to encourage this self-serving attitude of millennial and Generation Y. These groups are essentially any person that reached young adulthood around the year 2000, and are actually defined as being typically perceived as being familiar with electronic and digital technology. The hype and different controversies over Pokémon Go prompted me to think about what motivates my age group, Generation Y, and I think for a large portion of the population, it is themselves. Convenience and entertainment appear to be sought over most other things, and it seems that select individuals are being reinforced by others, often though social media platforms, to do these things we’ve heard about on the news with apparently no negative consequences. Apparently we are the entitled generation because we can do whatever the hell we want, as long as our defence is in the name of the almighty fad and is (insert your banal adjective here…) cool/fun/sweet/awesuum.
– “Put your Pokémons away, Billy!”
– “But, Mooom, Koffings are super rare!”
There are theories that because of the Y2K scare in 1999 and 9/11, these events interrupted Generation Y’s sense of security at a young age, and has made us uncertain and hesitant in regards to ‘growing up.’ This can even be seen in some Internet memes of the ‘Adulting is Hard’ genre. I personally find myself learning of the most recent tragedies from around the world every day, and usually without my consent. With so much violence and turmoil in the world, it is easy to become apathetic towards our society of too-many-problems-to-fix. Possibly the increase of social media sites has served as a distraction for young people, and the frivolity serves as a kind of buffer against the horrors that we hear about every day. I would not be bothered over a distraction in itself, but it seems like Instagram and YouTube ‘stars,’ who for the most part seem to be ‘famous’ for being beautiful or rich (or both), or are known because they buy and showcase the right brands and products to their viewers. SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media site that focuses on a virtual representation of the individual user, as said user sees themselves, appears to be the most problematic, where one does not have to look far to find folk of the shallow, entitled variety.
Avid users and participants in these types of social media sites usually will only present the best aspects of themselves, and use the site to create a virtual mask, as well as a ‘face,’ which in sociology, refers to the concept of an individual’s own sense of dignity or prestige in social contexts. This representation of themselves is what they present to whoever is reading or viewing their content. It is human nature to present oneself in a positive way, and exaggerate our claims a small amount, but in my mind, the ‘faces’ of active and chronic social media users have surpassed this allowance in a large way (like playing a game at the Holocaust Museum for points and prestige, for instance). I know that research has shown that online users can get a Dopamine release connected with games and positive social media attention, and that we should grace certain people with an amount of patience, but I think we should just all take a step back and consider. I highly doubt that everyone playing the game in these sensitive areas I am discussing are ‘technology addicts;’ I think we are simply becoming a generation of narcissists.
The expression “To save face” refers to the lengths that a person may go to in order to preserve their perceived, established position in their community, and the taking of action that may be required to ensure that they are not thought of in a negative way by their peers. I think that the concept of prestige is what millennials have focused in on within their Interwebs trite. I think that how this translates to the modern, technological world for an average person being a ‘follower’ of the ‘star’ is that this dialogue makes the average Joe feel like they are a part of these pseudo-celebrity’s success simply by knowing their name and genre. We all know this kind of person. The one that checks their phones every few minutes to make sure they aren’t missing out on an update, tweet, like, or share from the celebrities of their own creations, which could potentially hurt their status quo by not being in the loop of whatever is deemed important in their world. Gentile, Twenge, Freeman, & Campbell (2012) found that in an experiment, students that chose to complete an activity to edit their personal MySpace page over another kind of assignment scored higher narcissism personality traits when completing the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) than the group that chose the alternative assignment. Narcissism itself is defined by a sense of entitlement, an elevated sense of self, and overt grandiosity. Morf & Rhodewalt (2001) found that narcissistic individuals often seek continual reinforcement from their social environment in order to maintain their inflated self-views. They will seek to gain attention from others, and this attention can be from “bragging, wearing flashy clothing, dating attractive ‘‘trophy’’ partners, and buying status symbols.” Sound familiar, friends…?
I think a major problem with social media is that it creates unrealistic expectations for the ‘real world.’ Your cousin seems extraordinarily dull compared to the quip that you read from your favsies Instagramer this morning. Even though said Instagramer had who knows how long to write and edit their post. It’s like a forged perfection. This idea is peppered within the Pokémon Go game, as well, with the concept of nostalgia. Nostalgia can be a longing, of sorts, of our rose-tinted remembrance of the past, which can prompt us to attempt a restoration of something tangible to bring us back to our previous comfort. Annnd, enter the marketers to sell everything and anything that may bring us this comfort. Remember the ‘Adulting is Hard’ memes I mentioned earlier? Many millennials are basically children with salaries, looking for something to throw their money at. My only hope for these groups is for them to be more mindful of what and who they are actually supporting with their clicks, downloads, likes, and Pokéballs.