We know, we get it, it’s all about YOU.
A lot has been written about the cohort of kids born roughly between 1980 and 2000, who were first dubbed “Echo Boomers,” then “Millennials,” and now are commonly known as “Generation Y.” As the first generation to grow up empowered with social media, they have demonstrated a level of tolerance and confidence unseen in any previous generation. Some folks believe this is positive engagement, and has resulted in a massive shift toward progressive causes like gay rights. But critics abound, complaining that Gen Y shows little interest in civics or social causes, and is a generation built entirely on entitlement and narcissism.
What to make, then, of this year’s Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year? That word is “Selfie,” which is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone and uploaded to a social media website.” Across the Internet, the snapping of Selfies has exploded 17,000%. Facebook and Instagram accounts are getting crammed with photographic odes to self-awesomeness. You can find numerous sites offering tips for taking better Selfies, to eliminate “duckface” and other ruinous results. Selfie sub-genres are springing up, including “Welfies” which celebrate oneself in the act of working out (and looking great, of course). Then there’s “Helfies,” which are taken from a high angle to show off a particularly amazing hairstyle (and looking great, of course). And “Drelfies,” which can only be taken when one is sufficiently inebriated (but still looking great, of course).
OK, so maybe this is evidence of a completely self-involved generation. Or maybe they’re just having fun adopting a new technology. What does it say about them? Maybe it’s too soon to tell.
And perhaps the truth will be revealed soon, when the GenYs document themselves growing up and facing the harsh realities of life. Will they start posting “OhWellfies,” a photograph of oneself standing outside a company that isn’t hiring? Or a “KissandTellfie,” which one might unexpectedly receive from a buddy and one’s suddenly ex-girlfriend? And then, of course, there’s the inevitable “TollingBellfie,” which might be a close-up of a first gray hair…
Whatever happens, this generation is going to document it. And then we’ll know who they really are.
Here’s looking at you, kids.