Future Voices: Are social networks making us a superficial generation of lazy layabouts?

Future Voices: social network. Photo: Chris Potter

Future Voices: social network. Photo: Chris Potter - Credit: Archant

'Back in my day' or 'when I was a lad' seem to be phrases aimed at my generation, more often than not in criticism of our alleged lazy, layabout behaviour.

The general opinion about young people today is that everything comes easily, that we don't do anything for society and that we have little or no respect for our elders.

People put this behaviour down to over-nurturing from our parents, few boundaries for our behaviour and some reasons as extreme as the abolition of corporal punishment in schools.

I refuse to support claims that the younger generation are 'lazy layabouts'; however, I do believe recent advances in technology have created anti-social behavioural issues that set our generation apart from those before us.

The first question that springs to mind is 'what is it that has made this specific generation so self-centered?'. And I believe the answer is sitting right in front of all of our faces; literally. Technology and, more specifically, social networks.


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Social networks are a double edged sword.

In some respects they bring us all together and allow people to communicate across meters or continents. However, I also believe that social networks are responsible for driving us apart and for making us more self-centered. Some people spend hours obsessively posting every detail of their lives, following every detail of other people's lives and posting meticulously constructed 'selfies' on social networks.

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The very word 'selfie' - added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013 - suggests the deep set self-obsession of a generation far beyond mere vanity.

Social networks work under the pretence of connecting people socially, but relationships formed online are artificial. They lack spontaneity and instead present someone as they want to be presented - regardless of whether that is how they really are.

With 2.078 billion active social media accounts, people are being more artificially social, but are losing real human connection. Many more people chose to stay at home to communicate with their friends instead of going out to see them. Social networks are replacing physical social spaces such as pubs and are creating artificial contact.

Obviously social networks are not single-handedly crippling a generation, and are unlikely to bring civilisation to an early end. However, I do believe that Generation Y are being pushed into themselves by social networks and are becoming more self-centered as a result.

A survey found that over 50pc of parents think their children are too reliant on electronic devices. Technology and social networks are creating a harmful addiction for young people, and as Generation Y take charge of the world, social skills - still so important in all forms of communication - are becoming less developed.

While Generation Y are in fact politically aware, engaged with their environment, mindful of their future responsibilities to society, our obsession with social networks have portrayed us as a shallow superficial generation of 'lazy layabouts'.

Joe Hamilton, 16, Wolterton

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