I think that my generation can be defined by the word contact. New technologies such as the internet and texting allow people to have constant contact with other people and sources of information. We are in far more frequent contact with our friends, family, and acquaintances than would have been normal in the past. For example, we text people to tell them if we are running five minutes late or we text people ten minutes after having seen them, which was not possible before cell phones. Our contacts on our phones are a vital part of our ability to communicate, as we wouldn’t remember anyone’s phone number without them. We also compulsively seek physical contact with our phones and electronic devices.
I originally chose the word connection and changed it to contact because connection implies depth and understanding. We feel the need to have contact with phones, social media, texting, and the internet as a whole, but this contact is compulsive and superficial rather than thoughtful and extensive. We also have a certain degree of control over what and who we come into contact with. We read articles shared on Facebook by our friends that reflect values we already hold. We can block people who we do not want to have contact with. The internet is so vast than many things can only be accessed by directly searching for them. I do not think this is unique to our generation. People for many generations have read newspapers that expressed views they agreed with, avoided people they do not like, and only read a few carefully selected books in a library. But it is possible that our generation takes these tendencies to the extreme. It is difficult to determine if new technologies and greater contact with the world are creating a set of traits in our generation or simply shining a brighter light on already existing traits.
I also realize that my choice of the word contact and its association with technology limits the extent of what I consider to be my “generation.” It excludes people who do not have access to such technology or choose not to use it. It assumes that all people use technologies in the same ways. The act of choosing a keyword for a generation is both a vague and limiting task, and I find it hard not to fall back on existing notions and stereotypes about millennials.