April 20, 2024

The Internet Has Become Embarrassingly Unfriendly to Millennials Like Me

W.As I flicked through a lengthy photo dump from a friend’s recent rowing excursion in Cornwall, a wave of existentialism washed over me. The toxic dopamine spikes from social media that once rocked my soul were now gone. In its place was great shame. “This place used to be sexy and fun,” I thought, as I opened, closed, and then reopened the Instagram app. “How pathetic it is to be a millennial social media addict.”

Given that the definition of “millennial” encompasses both Gigi Hadid, 28, and Pitbull, 42, it would be reckless of me to generalize the status of an entire generation. However, due to painstaking research (scrolling until my eyes bleed) and my age group’s supposed predisposition to turn literally every passing thought into a narcissistic, melodramatic essay on the state of the nation, I can officially declare that the Millennials are finished. Discarded. We have no place online in 2023.

I felt the first pangs of this digital shift during the pandemic, when I gave in and synced my soul to TikTok. I had abstained for a while, believing it might just be a blip, a temporary platform for dancing preteens and sexual predators. While I wasn’t entirely wrong, it turns out that the Chinese app had longevity and a much more sophisticated algorithm than I had encountered before. Within hours he knew what he wanted and what he didn’t want: from specific music preferences to dietary requirements to advice for incredibly specific physical and emotional ailments. I was surprised to see that it was a thriving ecosystem, led and curated by the generation that succeeded mine.

However, while my marginal interests were catered for, I quickly realized that this app was too hostile for someone in my demographic. Younger users mocked millennials for using laughing emojis or zooming quickly, for liking Harry Potter or relying on caffeine. Even the experience of being on the app seemed outside my comfort zone: like entering Las Vegas with a bachelor party, no sense of the passage of time, how to get out, the ominous flashing or flashing lights, the drugs that were too strong. for one person. Tuesday night.

Millennials did not invent the Internet. That was boomer Tim Berners-Lee. But millennials did create and curate much of Web 2.0 and the platforms that dominated the last 20 years: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder and Bumble. While I rarely post, I’ve been a loyal lurker, one that’s also quietly evolved as the Internet has: from early romantic escapades forged on MSN and music forums, to coveting hipsters’ hairstyles on MySpace and fanatically following bloggers with x rating. on Tumblr and beyond.

There has been a lot of creative and subversive content created by Millennials over the past two decades, yet we are largely remembered for spearheading much-maligned modes of communication: like punctuating tweets with “This,” “That’s it.” That’s the tweet,” or “Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.” We’re even aesthetically affiliated with a kind of numbness: our allegiance to Pepto Bismol’s “millennial pink” or the “duck lip” pout, for example. Because our voice and style were so dominant for such a large stretch of digital history, we’ve found it difficult to subtly assimilate into a new domain.

Social media no longer harbors that voyeuristic emotion that initially attracted me, the one that made me feel excited, intrigued, as if I could see another person’s life without filters or cures.

This dilemma, however, is not simply a matter of aging out of the Internet: social media is not a house party from which you are shunned the moment you start considering wearing orthopedic shoes or linger too long in front of it. the Tena Lady boxes. Rather, it is a very specific ancient enigma. TikTok remains the fastest-growing platform, fueled by the absurd humor and irony of Generation Z. Facebook has become a safe haven for Boomers and Generation X: its users are 19 percent more likely to share content than any other generation. They are active: engaged, creating communities and conversations. The once university-focused networking website remains the UK’s biggest social media platform, powered, at least in my feed, by 58-year-olds airing their political grievances, nostalgic snaps and steamy covers from the new Orbital album. I used to visit Facebook with a kind of arrogance, assuming that everyone there was a Luddite who was missing out on the fun. Now I visit Facebook and feel a pang of jealousy: there are so many socially active friends who welcome friendly users who post enthusiastically, often about Orbital.

Meanwhile, Twitter, once our networking event, our speed-dating space, our stand-up special, is now our apocalyptic wasteland. I still see us wandering around, as if a funny line could give us the validation we need to move up in our professional quagmire or help us find the love of our lives, but it’s useless. Since Elon Musk’s mandate, I enter and am immediately confused by his algorithm; I’m not sure why I can only see tweets from people I’ve never heard of, posting about heartbreaking topics I’ve never engaged with before. It is the antithesis of TikTok; So lacking in intuition that I feel like touching his hand and suggesting we just “quit it” and watch Netflix.

So where are millennials destined to go? Instagram may have supportive communities (particularly when it comes to parenting), but overall the platform seems like a strange, artificial universe. There’s a tragic sense that everyone is still playing a game that ended long ago: the one in which we all pretended that our lives were relentlessly fabulous and that our skin was naturally this soft. All the hot old girls I used to obsess over have had babies or become doulas or businesswomen and their brands are too curated to reveal grit or dirt. Sometimes they make a post about their cellulite and tell you “don’t believe everything you see on the Internet,” but a few hours later they go back to the bikini photos and the pine tree at sunset. The Zoomers see through it. Boomers couldn’t care less. It’s just us millennials, looking at distant photos of bike rides or some kind of newly domesticated ennui involving home fries or the aforementioned rowing, and longing for the adrenaline rush of logging on to 2006.

‘The Internet was once an illicit gateway into another person’s life, rather than a proud declaration of its existence that could generate enough engagement to land an endorsement deal’

(iStock)

Is it substack? Should I launch a Substack about my shed renovation? Or different ways to make tofu fun? Hopelessly devoted tofu? I didn’t have enough interesting comments for Twitter, let alone 800 words a week for six subscribers, four of whom will never open the email. Reddit is a viable option; In fact, millennials are its biggest users in the UK, yet the interface makes me anxious and I go online to look at people I vaguely know rather than wishing deadpool cat spoilers and memes.

As I surf the Internet, unable to quench my need for a burst of that noxious digital buzz, I realize that maybe I’m not the problem. The social media I grew up with isn’t what it used to be. It no longer contains that voyeuristic emotion that initially attracted me, the one that made me feel excited, intrigued, as if I could see another person’s life without filters or cures. I don’t want content creators to show me their journeys on Arket. I want to upload 58 photos from a house party that reveal the unflattering side profile of a popular person I’ve always been jealous of. The Internet was once an illicit gateway into another person’s life, rather than a proud declaration of its existence that could generate enough engagement to land an endorsement deal.

Aside from the easy millennial ridicule and lack of community, it’s clear that I no longer support the way these platforms and their users now operate. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time for me, and the rest of my Internet-anxious and confused generation, to do the most believable thing we’ve ever done: log out forever.

At least until we’re ready to upgrade to Facebook. O Lady Tena.

‘Is This Okay?: A Woman’s Search for Online Hookup’ by Harriet Gibsone it’s already in stores

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