The effects of technology on millennials

Anderson is a senior political science major from Cumming. He is currently writing a thesis about U.S. interventions.

Elijah Anderson

The Baby Boomers call us apathetic. Emotionless vessels desperately glued to the screens in front of us. Our youth, they claim, is wasted on a generation of individuals who just don’t give a damn. We have been defamed by TIME magazine as the worst generation of all time. Are we really that bad? If so, what made us this way?

We are the children of 9/11. The ones who watched two towers collapse, not understanding why, but who cried anyways. We watched casket after casket of fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters return home from places we never heard of, killed by enemies we didn’t know existed.

We saw bodies floating in New Orleans, an economic collapse that financially ruined countless lives, and more mass shootings than we can count all extensively covered by 24-hours-a-day-seven-days-a-week news cycle. This is the America we have inherited.

Yet, history proves that we are living in the most peaceful time ever recorded. There is less war, violence and conflict than ever before. But does it not seem like every day is a tragedy, every headline a new atrocity?

Of course it does. A hundred years ago, despite exponentially greater levels of violence, people were uniformed of worldwide tragedies. Our ancestors were not exposed to a constant stream of gushing levels of violence. Technology has changed the game. Instead of reading about a murder in the newspaper I can now watch it transpire in HD quality caught on video surveillance.

Consider that nowadays there are entire websites devoted to displaying what I call death porn, where blood-lusting humans flock to in order to satiate their morbid appetites.  Want to see a guy disintegrate upon being hit by a train? Click here. How about a drone strike incinerating innocent civilians? Click here.  The shock and awe of death has lost its appalling effect.  The constant stream of violence we see in movies, news and everyday life on the Internet has rendered us desensitized, apathetic and despicably self-absorbed.

Why should we be worried? What’s wrong with tuning out the bad, seeing what we want to see? Well, ask the more than six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust or the innocent civilians blown to pieces by misplaced drone strikes. Atrocities like these are the result of a desensitized populace, a populace willing to turn the other way or one distracted by something else entirely.  Technology has wonderful benefits. I will be the first to recognize that, but we must also recognize that it is systematically rewiring our brains to feel less, focus on instant gratification, and ignore our most basic instincts of compassion. Such is life in the 21st century.