[Nov. 2016 Opinions] Get me out of Generation Z

By Jesse Levinson ’17


I used to send Snapchats of books I was reading, underlining sentences that I found particularly funny or alarmingly existential. Sometimes I would even add brief captions expressing my thoughts, and if I was feeling exceptionally quirky, I’d throw in my favorite emoji—the sly guy wearing sunglasses.   

I would go through my list of Snapchat friends and check the ones I thought would appreciate my messages. I envisioned the responses I hoped to receive: a connection to another book, a personal anecdote or even a message calling me nerdy (accompanied by the nerd emoji, of course).

However, what I so often received were captionless Snapchats of either half a face, or a single eye that took up my entire phone screen. Why avid Snapchatters feel so inclined to hide the majority of their face, I will never know.

From then on, it became apparent to me that Snapchat—or any other social media platform—was not for me. This brought me to a pretty unfortunate conclusion, but one that I must live with; I simply do not belong in this generation.

In addition to my discontent with Snapchat, there are a variety of other factors that led me to this realization. For one, I prefer reading a book over watching some dumbed-down Netflix show (I know, the horror). I would also take a Woodstock-esque concert—no matter the weather—over listening to some guy on his laptop any day.

In the words of Pablo Picasso, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” Just like reading allows me to reach my own conclusions, listening to a live, outdoor performance allows me to have a more personalized experience.

Maybe I sound condescending. Maybe I sound like some curly-bearded, bombastic wilderness man. Either way, I’m certainly not the first person to echo the sentiment that technological advancements may not be quite as good as we think.

In his Pulitzer Prize finalist novel “The Shadows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” Nicholas Carr writes, “The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.”

Whether we’re constantly refreshing our Instagram feeds to check for new “likes” or commenting unrelated, occasionally funny memes for attention, we have all been the crazed “lab rats” Carr discusses. Even I, a dilapidated caveman by today’s standards, am subject to the classic move of occasionally re-updating my Facebook profile picture to get more likes.

Still, if I had the choice, I would travel back a couple hundred years to the simple days of kerosene lamps for warmth and dog-eared books for entertainment. I want to live in a world that places emphasis on human me rather than my online profile.

Yet I get that this is a bit too much to ask, so for now, I will stick to my book snapchats.