Selfie-Determination and Underground Social Networking

Teenage girl holding a social media sign smilingBrian Solis, a sociologist, futurist and digital analyst, has written an article about how teens use social media and why it matters. It’s a good article that addresses rampant selfies and the rise of accidental narcissism among Generation Y (1982-1999), however, it didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know. This article, however, Parenting in the Digital Age: How I Found My Teenage Daughter’s Secret Twitter Account, kind of explained Siri to me. Actually, I’m lucky in that my teenager already told me about it or, ummm, her. I only glazed over the first 15 times, but I got it now.

Anyway, what both of these articles didn’t mention is underground online networks of youth (both teens in Generation Y and pre-teens in Generation Z) on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The undisclosed accounts center around school communities and provide a way for young people to interact and communicate with each other outside the watchful eyes of school officials and parents. It’s clever, sometimes funny and sometimes risky. It’s also rampant and hard to track, but it’s out there. Like I said, pretty clever.

I Don’t Belong In This Generation

UsingĀ  Storify, I created a kind of commentary about Gen Y by Gen Y by searching the keyword phrase “this generation.” You don’t have to scroll for very long in this thread before you discover a generation very disenchanted with itself. I apologize in advance for all the profanity. These tweets are just a sampling from the last week or so, but I’ve been reading similar Twitter updates for a few years, now. Collectively, they seem to point to evidence that is more than anecdotal.

Another observation I’ve made during my research of the keyword, generation, is that minority youth in the United States are more likely to tweet about the concept of their generation than Caucasian youth. In fact, such tweets are actually rare among white kids. Again, this could be anecdotal evidence, but I’ve been doing these keyword searches for quite awhile now and I think my assessment is correct.

One possible reason is that minority youth in the U.S. have witnessed more significant societal shifts among their respective races than white youth. The hardships of the generations that have gone before Hispanic, Black and Asian youth, etc., in the U.S. are palpable, and these kids and teens are able to draw more striking comparisons and contrasts among the generations present in their own families. This actually deepens the overall concept of generations.

If you want to test my theory, just search Instagram for the word “generation.” Chances are you’ll see what I see. The only people posting pictures with the generation hashtag are minority youth in Generation Y like Savipro, every1_luvz_geo and t_babywinnin.

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