Beginning of the end for selfie generation? I’ll give that a

Is the ‘the new crack cocaine of the digital age’ as it has been called, on the wane, asks Colette Sheridan
Beginning of the end for selfie generation? I’ll give that a
Is happiness going out with a fully charged phone?

“HAPPINESS is going out with a fully charged phone,” said the teenage daughter of a friend recently.

It’s a shallow statement, implying that without connectivity, life just isn’t at its optimum.

What’s a girl to do if she can’t be instantly contacted and, more importantly, if she can’t curate her image on her phone, taking shots of her cappuccino (complete with a heart drawn on the froth) and selfies of her perfectly made-up face?

Mind you, you wouldn’t want to look too closely at a teenager’s cosmetically enhanced face in real life because of the oh-so-obvious contours and sweeping false eye-lashes and enhanced eyebrows.

(Eyebrows are such a thing now. They have to be dark and relatively thick. They can look quite brutal).

My theory is that the gals know they look over-the-top in the real world but it’s a look that is vital if they are to look well in photos. It’s a bit like showbusiness, really. It’s all about images that will work on screens.

And when it comes to going to debs balls and their boyfriends’ grads, there is no way that the gals are going to wear the same (expensive) dress to both occasions. It just wouldn’t work. You couldn’t have the one frock photographed at two different events.

Being economical is not part of this generation’s approach to their social lives. Everything has to be new. Debs’ dresses are often sold after one wear. What a waste!

But in case you’re totally despairing of the young ones, fear not. There are signs that the use of social media, ‘the new crack cocaine of the digital age’ as it has been called, is on the wane. At least, that was the impression given in a report in the Guardian last week.

“You start doing things that are dishonest,” said Amanuel, who quit social media at the age of 16.

Through Instagram, Amanuel was “presenting this dishonest version of myself, on a platform where most people were presenting dishonest versions of themselves.”

Jeremiah Johnson, aged 18, grew tired of the pressures of sustaining an online persona.

“It’s a competition for who can appear the happiest,” he said. “And if you’re not happy and want to vent about it on social media, you’re attention-seeking.”

An 18-year-old student, going under the name of Isabelle, was turned off social media when her classmates started behaving like zombies.

“Everyone switched off from conversation. It became: ‘Can I have your number to text you?’ Something got lost in terms of speaking face to face. And I thought: ‘I don’t really want to be swept up in that.’”

Last year, a survey of British schoolchildren found that 63% would be happy if social media had never been invented.

Another survey of 9,000 internet users found that people aged 18-24 had significantly changed their attitudes towards social media in the past two years.

Whereas 66% of this demographic agreed with the statement “social media is important to me” in 2016, only 57% make this claim in 2018.

This is part of a slowly growing trend. According to a study by American marketing firm, Hill Holliday of Generation Z (those born after 1995), half of those surveyed said they had quit or were intending to quit at least one social media platform.

A spokesperson for the firm believes we will see an increase in younger folk either quitting or substantially reducing their social media use.

A wish to develop authentic as opposed to virtual friendships motivated some to log off social media.

“I’m so much better at real-life socialising now,” said Amanuel. “Not just those people you accept on a friend request who are friends of a friend.”

Ah yes, all the (lonely?) ‘friends’, where do they all come from?

But if generation Z are turning off social media, older generations are embracing it. Among the 45-plus age bracket, the proportion who value social media has gone from 23% to 28% in the past year.

So, those of us who are not digital natives but have embraced social media with gusto, are not giving a good example to young people.

I was reluctant to use social media in its early days but now count out my days in ‘likes’.

Well, not quite, but I can get a teeny bit down if something I post doesn’t get any affirmations. It’s a bit pathetic.

There is definitely a dopamine rush when you get lots of ‘likes’ and even comments (as long as they’re not wagging a virtual finger at you) relating to something you put up on Facebook or Twitter.

Thankfully, young folk are displaying sense. Hill Holliday found that 44% of young people who quit or considered quitting social media did so to “use time in more valuable ways”.

Thumbs up to that.

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