Are we a product of our environment or is our environment the product of us? Whenever I have this discussion, being the understanding and indecisive person I am, I side with a little of both. Part of me says we have created this technology-loving, selfie-taking, attention-thriving environment. Part of me says this environment has changed and influenced every generation in more ways than one. But it didn’t happen overnight.
I remember taking my digital camera to capture the last moments of middle school. Many of these moments were selfies with friends. My friends did not react to taking pictures as well as they would have if we were in middle school right now. It was almost a burden. Ugh we have to take a picture?
Smart phones and social media were not popular in my life or in my friends’ lives until our senior year of high school. I will admit that I tried to post on Facebook quite a bit, but definitely did not get much feedback, because most of my friends didn’t have social media or smart phones.
Technology really took off when I started college. That’s when more people had smartphones and social media. Through the traditional word-of-mouth, people started “adding” each other to their followers or friend lists. And the environment started to change.
The word-of-mouth became more word-of-social-media-sharing. This was us controlling the change of our environment. We started to realize the benefits of having the ability to contact any of our friends at any time. We also started to thrive on sharing things we liked and disliked.
We share for educational purposes, for humorous purposes, and yes, for attention seeking purposes. We created the idea that likes equal popularity. Some special gestures faded into the norm, such as saying Happy Birthday. It used to be a very special thing when someone remembered that it was our birthday, and now we expect to have our wall filled with Happy Birthdays from people that we may have lost touch with.
Don’t get me wrong, I do still appreciate those posts. We have created this world of social media that, for some, means more than the world we are living in and physically interacting with.
The next few years, there was a technology boom. iPhones updating almost every other month, new technology coming out almost every 6 months… In my opinion, it got out of hand pretty quickly. The environment that we created was starting to create us.
Now, smart phones have become a necessity for elementary school students. I understand having a phone is a safety precaution for children, but there may be consequences to giving a child that much freedom. The environment that millennials have created will mold the next generation. It is already molding them.
As the leaders of the next generation, we have to realize that what we have created can be both a bad and good influence. We need to teach the future generations about the consequences and benefits of technology. We have to teach them more about things like cyber-bullying and plagiarism. We have to teach them that there are healthy and unhealthy things about the world we have created for them.
It may seem like I mostly have negative thoughts about what we have created, but there are certainly benefits. Having so much information at the tip of our fingers is exciting and useful. The resources that the following generations have will give them opportunities to create an even more advanced environment.
But I will leave you with this question: Are we a product of our environment or is our environment a product of us?