Social Media or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the App

— October 31, 2016

David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010) features a key scene in which Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake, enthusiastically exclaims the cultural shift that’s taking place right in front of everyone’s eyes: “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!”

There’s no denying how plugged in our society has become. We’re addicted to the computers in our pockets and we’re only a click away from a world of information. This transition, however, has been so seamless that we fear the very thing that has actually improved our lives.

We’re living in interesting times. In 2012, when Facebook was less than a decade old, the social networking site was already bigger than some of the biggest companies in the world; for reference, Facebook had surpassed Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Salesforce, Starbucks, Target, and Disney.

Snapchat’s current valuation is somewhere between $ 18 and $ 20 billion, and because it’s an app that’s only five years old, people are both confused and infuriated by these numbers. I admit that even I was among those who felt like Snapchat was nothing more than an app for teenagers to share selfies of themselves. I really felt like we were doomed as a society.

The fact is, however, we make proclamations every few decades, claiming this generation is the worst we’ve ever seen. We forget that there a time when television was thought to rot children’s brains. Where are the parents now who yelled at their children to stop watching television because they thought it’d destroy their minds?

Vaughan Bell of Slate notes that the same was true for radio (which was seen as a threat that would distract children from reading), and even books and writing were criticized “because it’d create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories.” The feeling now is that today’s generation is doomed because of technology.

This is a recurring cycle in society, “with each generation reimagining the dangerous impacts of technology on mind and brain… [as] the older generation warns against a new technology and bemoans that society is abandoning the ‘wholesome’ media it grew up with…” How many times have you heard someone say kids these days have no imagination, or that when they were younger, they would play outside with their friends? Do you see a pattern here?

We’re throwing our hands up in the air when we make these statements. The way we live our lives is changing, and you know what? It’s a fantastic thing that children know how to navigate the latest smartphone or tablet. It’s called digital literacy.

We’re missing the bigger picture here. If this is the future of our lives, why don’t school systems to update and incorporate technology into classrooms? Why are we afraid of this change and so reluctant to accept what’s right in front of our eyes? This is what Gary Vaynerchuk has been talking about for years. It’s time to embrace social media and technology and make the most of it. It’s only now that I can see that Snapchat isn’t simply an app, it’s a media company.

No, kids these days don’t have the same social skills as the generation before them, but they have something else. They have a set of skills that sets them apart and makes them competitively unique. They’re the ones who look at resumes and find them outdated and irrelevant. They’re the ones who job-hop, not because they’re indecisive or unreliable, but because it’s the best way of building up their skills.

They’re the ones who will be running businesses, in new and exciting ways – and we’ll be the ones who will be complaining about how that’s not how it was done back in our day.

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Author: Armen Karaoghlanian

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