Millenials and Social Networking – A Critique

Someone directed me to a post about Millenials and Social Networking, It is written by someone who, I imagine, is a member of that generation, and yet I find it totally – but totally – wrong.

I wanted to reply in situ but it seems you need to log onto Facebook to do so. I don’t do Facebook, so I’m posting my reply here:

I’m not a millenial, but a baby boomer, and I take umbrage at the proposition that simply because sites like Twitter and Pinterest foster curation, people have lost the ability (or desire?) to be creative. “To everything there is a season” and a place, as well. We use different social media for different purposes. Curation is not simply imitation, it’s also selection, and that means practicing a discriminatory ability, critical reading, etc.

Generation Y does have problems that are specific to it – so did we, so does every generation. So what? If you look at the research, the notion of Gen Y as narcissistic comes from my generation, not from the data. Gen Y is creating what Henry Jenkins refers to as the “Participatory Culture,” something we individualists have had a hard time doing, especially after we hit middle age, and certainly in our dotage.

Let’s stop promoting clichés and look at real data, real people, and real situations. The world has become a harder place than it was in our youth, let’s help younger people cope with it, instead of dumping on them. Otherwise, what was the “summer of love” for?

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About Ray

Ray Gallon is president and co-founder of The Transformation Society (www.transformationsociety.net), a research and consulting company focusing on helping organisations in business, government, and society to live and work with complexity and the digital transformation. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station. Ray is a self-described "humanist nerd," and has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises. Ray recently helped co-found the Information 4.0 Consortium (www.information4zero.org) and serves as its current president. Ray is a university lecturer and a keynote speaker at events throughout the world. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).
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2 Responses to Millenials and Social Networking – A Critique

  1. ddrrnt says:

    Thanks Ray,

    I don’t entirely agree with the author, but I know there are Millennials who are facing the challenges he outlines. I know several of them.

    There is less participation and more isolation for these youth who compare themselves to others in social networks — along with other distractions.

    There is less curation and more consumption among youth whose Instagram feeds show their love of shopping.

    I agree that curation is a form of creativity, but not all platforms enable it’s users to flourish together. The greater level of attention the platform captures, the higher amount of advertising dollars can be made.

    The bleak side of the story is not entirely wrong, just unbalanced. I approve of your criticism and hope to see more data emphasizing the bright side of social media: cross-cultural and -generational awareness of both participative possibilities and actualities.

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