My oldest cousin is fifteen. I can't believe he's fifteen--I feel so ancient by comparison--and he hasn't let me forget how much older I am than him (albeit not necessarily intentionally).
The easiest way he's not let me forget it: the drastic differences in our social media practises.
My first experiences with social media were the early incarnations of it, way back in The Day: Xanga, LiveJournal, MySpace, and then, of course--once I was about to graduate high school and had a UCI e-mail address, back in the days when you needed a college e-mail address--Facebook. Long before Twitter and Instagram and Pintrest. One of the last times I saw my cousin, he was texting incessantly and using various apps, and his parents were admonishing him for texting in the presence of other people. It was funny to witness because my parents told me the same thing when I was his age, but my generation was the first generation to experience such an admonishment. My aunt and uncle never received any such lecture when they were teenagers. For reference: e-mail exploded when I was in middle or high school, which was at least ten to fifteen years ago. That was back in the days when you asked people "do you have an e-mail address?" and either answer was commonplace.
In this interaction with my cousin (back when he was fourteen--this is about a year ago), I asked him whether he was on Facebook, and he kindly informed me:
"Facebook is for moms and old people."
And then proceeded to send his girlfriend a photo on Snapchat.
I love the perspective of being placed in the "old" category. I'm of the newly old: the things he's talking about as so far in the past are only a few years prior to me. But the concept of social media being for "old people" is pretty hilarious. I'm neither a mom nor remotely close to anything most people would consider "old" (except teenagers, and even then, usually jokingly [I hope]), and yet I'm a (relatively) active Facebook user. Now, my Facebook use has severely diminished since my college years, that's for certain--and now that many of my friends have had kids, I definitely do see a lot of moms (usually very young ones, but also slightly less-young ones as from my own mom's generation--though certainly they're not by any means "old," either) using Facebook, too. But this means that Millennials are a new generation. We're the new old, and in a sense this means--to me--that we're the new power of the world. We're young enough to be always coming up with new ideas and not be too attached to any of them, but old enough to have a little bit of power.
For example: thanks to Facebook, I know that no fewer than three of the MFA students from my grad class who didn't have teaching positions while we were in grad school now have adjunct positions--the beginnings of a potentially long career in academia. Another friend from grad school has been published in a Best American anthology, and another has received a writing fellowship. An old high school classmate now works for Obama in some form, and another has created his own successful tech business. Many old classmates are parents, giving their children positivity and teaching them sustainability, taking care of their children and providing them with the resources they need to succeed to create a new generation. Quite a few people I knew during middle school are now in PhD programs.
And it doesn't even stop at who these people are; it continues to sharing political issues, having conversations about those things that affect our lives and affect others'. Sometimes those conversations are heated. Sometimes they're beneficial and inspire people to create public programs that will definitely benefit ourselves and others--not "in the future," or "when we grow up," but now.
It's so exciting to be a part of the New-Old. It means the conversations we're having now--through something as simple, paltry, advanced, necessary, unnecessary, excessive, minimal, whatever as Facebook--have meaning. They're starting to have direct impacts on our national culture and our global culture--because once upon a time, back when we were "young," our parents told us that we were the future--and now, the future is here, and we are it.
PART OF THIS COMPLETE BREAKFAST
Blog not recommended for sober consumption.