If you’re part of the Millennial Generation, you surely are. But you aren’t likely to read much more than the first few lines of this post, are you? That’s among the findings of a recent Pew Research Center study on Gen Y (roughly defined as those from 18 – 29) and how they communicate.
Out? Facetime. In? Status updates.
In short (literally), if you’re young and hip, you like it quick. So says a yahoo news story, via the AP, on one aspect of the study — the demise of blogging among the millennial set:
A new study has found that young people are losing interest in long-form blogging, as their communication habits have become increasingly brief, and mobile. Tech experts say it doesn’t mean blogging is going away. Rather, it’s gone the way of the telephone and e-mail — still useful, just not sexy.
“Remember when ‘You’ve got mail!’ used to produce a moment of enthusiasm and not dread?” asks Danah Boyd, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Now when it comes to blogs, she says, “people focus on using them for what they’re good for and turning to other channels for more exciting things.”
In less time than most of us care to note, we’ve seen the diminished use – if not outright demise — of snail mail, faxes, land lines, newspapers, email and now — blogs? Chalk it up to social networking, says the yahoo story:
With social networking has come the ability to do a quick status update and that has “kind of sucked the life out of long-form blogging,” says Amanda Lenhart, a Pew senior researcher and lead author of the latest study.
More young people are also accessing the Internet from their mobile phones, only increasing the need for brevity. The survey found, for instance, that half of 18- to 29-year-olds had done so.
All of that rings true to Sarah Rondeau, a freshman at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
“It’s a matter of typing quickly. People these days don’t find reading that fun,” the 18-year-old student says. She loves Facebook and has recently started using Twitter to share pictures of her dorm room and blurbs about campus life, which are, in turn, shared on the Holy Cross Web site for prospective students.
Life by status update? I’m all for short and quick. It’s efficient! There’s quantity! And yet, at the risk of being called, well, old, I have to wonder: Where’s the depth? The bigger picture? The other side? Where does this leave the art of chitchat?
And in fact, there are subtle rumblings around the edges that hint that all is not always well in the land of quick connections. For example, PR Newswire reports that a St. Paul company is offering seminars to show twentysomethings how to use facetime rather than screentime to score a job. Huh? That needs to be taught? And there’s this: A story out of CUNY’s Baruch College links the high depression rate among millenial students to uber-connection:
Baruch psychology professor David Sitt acknowledges the implications of technological evolution on an entire generation’s social character.
“We are changing our expectations of what we need in life to make us happy,” said Sitt. “Since technology has propelled us forward it creates a speed where everything is immediate and the window for gratification has narrowed.”
According to Sitt, depression grows from a root need for gratification as social networking tools and electronic gadgets instill in us a constant pressure to connect.
“Initially we only needed to see our friends once a month, now it has turned into everyday,” said Sitt. “We have this idea that if we don’t check our emails or post on Facebook every second then we missed out on something or that people have forgotten about us.”
I tweet, therefore I am? All of which brings us back to something we wrote about last month — the way in which these cyberlives have begun to erode our real ones. From that post:
Is this uber-connection to our cyber-lives and cyber friends and god-knows-what-all-else keeping us from being fully present in our own here and now? From appreciating what we have — rather than jonesing for what we don’t? Does the fact that we have one foot in our own life and the other in about a hundred others make us continually wonder what we’re missing?
All those distractions! All those choices! No wonder we’re always angsting over that greener grass — because the other side of the fence is always up in our face.
And the thing is, when that other side of the fence comes to you via short and quick, it’s almost always looking better than it is.