We are Generation Y. We come from all walks of life, and we are united by the experience of a McDonald’s burger. We drank the Kool Aid or its local equivalent. We had to, since tap water stopped being potable when we were growing up. We learned to type shortly after learning how to write. We didn’t need to punch the letters hard to make sure that the imprint on the paper is visible. Most of what we type do not even see paper.
We write on walls without vandalizing. We have many electronic friends but only a handful of friends. The owner of Facebook is our contemporary. We may have, at some point, had a myspace or friendster account, but it’s been inactive for a while now. With automatic spellcheck on our side, we didn’t need to learn how to spell. Whenever a restaurant bill arrives, we are quick to whip out our mobile phones. Even quicker are our dexterous fingers in typing in the equation—and voila! We didn’t actually have to do arithmetic.
We are still young. But we are old enough to remember the good old days of the SOUND of Internet dial up. We’ll buy things we haven’t physically touched as long as we can see electronic images and excellent customer feedback. We use “google,” “message” and “skype” as verbs. We text people. We LOL, ROTFL and LMAO. We ignore some calls inadvertently, some deliberately. Our conduct on Facebook subscribes to the maxim that “To ignore is human, to block is divine.” We know “spam” is not just a piece of meat, and we avoid it as much as we can.
We call symptoms of ADHD “multitasking.” And, we multitask all the time. We call “online grocery shopping while downloading movies while uploading photos while chatting” efficiency. Yes, we have several tabs and windows simultaneously open. No, we will not wait while you load your page. We want information, and we want it now. LMK ASAP b/c I GTG. Knowledge is passé, information-overload-without-retention is the way to go.
We literally have the world at our fingertips with google maps. We’ve zoomed in on where we live on google maps. We wonder what we did before Wikipedia. We lamented the deactivation of limewire. We google ourselves. We google you. We google the weather, the news, the bus schedule, the cheapest flight, the song, the music video, the lyrics, the current conversion rate, the restaurant, the movie schedule, the ex-boyfriend, the boyfriend’s ex-girlfriends, the next date. We once had Backstreet Boys audio cassette tapes, but we don’t have Justin Bieber posters. We have birth control, while the people who really need it don’t. Some of us have offspring, some will have offspring. Hopefully, some will choose to adopt when they realize that there are millions of children that die shortly after they are born into lethal poverty or because Brad and Angie are cool as far as Hollywood couples go.
We’ve learned how to swim in the sea of facts and figures. Our minds have been calibrated by multimillion transnational corporations to respond favorably to the products and services they sell. We live in societies of manic advertising and product placements. We trudge on waiting for the next paycheck so we can buy those shoes, upgrade our computers, take that vacation, move to a nicer place, afford organic food, get a bigger TV that is as thin as Mary-Kate Olsen’s limbs when she had anorexia. We become desensitized to the fact that 925 million people are hungry while we try to lose just a couple of pounds. We relapse and become sensitized for a bit. And then, we retreat into a state of paralysis as we ponder the crimes of humanity.
We try to console ourselves that it’s not our fault. We try to do something good in our own little way. We give some coins to that guy on the street—the homeless, the junkie, the hitchhiker or the WWF volunteer—just give someone something. We relapse again when we realize the futility of our charity.
We go back to Facebook when enough time has elapsed. Our “friends” have uploaded new photos and updated their statuses. We numb our brain with the smiling faces and witticisms. It’s not difficult to avoid moments of lucidity when we have the rest of the world conspiring to help us forget.
Rachelle Bascara, 29, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of the Philippines and the University College London, respectively. She is working on yet another postgraduate degree at Birkbeck College, University of London.