Allison Coyle

The well established conformists path is the easy one, it has been traveled many times and its rewards are mediocre at best.

Tag: millennial

Pageantry of Vanity

If you haven’t yet seen this video, I implore you to do so before you read any further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

Most, if not all, of us go through phases in which we rid ourselves of social media. For some, it’s not simply a phase but a conscious, permanent decision to change the way we interact with others.

I deleted my Facebook account last June after my heart was broken by a guy I was convinced I was destined to marry. I have over 500 “friends” on Facebook, yet I felt completely alone. In my sorry state, I wrote several notes about my situation, hoping to receive feedback from others who could relate. Yet I received none. Thankfully, I was interning with a great group of people at the time who pulled me out of my funk and brought color back to my life. This incident caused me to reevaluate the true purpose and necessity of social media in my own life. I was no longer “networking” or “keeping up” with old friends and acquaintances. I was airing my dirty laundry for virtual strangers to read. And I wasn’t alone in doing so.

Have you ever stopped and really taken note of how people utilize their social media pages? Some people genuinely do keep up with friends and share interesting articles and videos with said friends. My grandma is a great example of that, as is my friend Tiffany, who uses Facebook to create event invites and share info with her friends studying midwifery. I am not a great example of this, unfortunately. While I love discussing politics, music, and movies, I realized not too long after I created a Facebook page that social media is not the best medium for doing so. It’s much easier to debate and argue with others when you’re not forced to speak with them face to face. This has created unnecessary rifts in a few friendships, none of which, thankfully, have been permanent. So while I think discussing politics is a good and healthy practice, I now recognize that Facebook is a terrible venue for doing so.

I’m sure most people have examples of discussions gone awry due to miscommunication over social media. I can’t count the number of couples I’ve seen fight over one of them clicking “like” on someone else’s selfie or getting caught posting pictures of themselves with someone other than their significant other. It’s ridiculously juvenile, and this kind of behavior has permeated our culture just within the last decade. When was the last time you hung out with a friend without them taking a picture of their food or updating their status in the midst of a discussion? I got into an argument a few years ago with a friend who refused to put his phone away during dinner because he wanted to be in constant contact with his boyfriend.

Aside from the bad manners technology has wrought, there is a greater underlying problem in our culture. How often do you compare yourself to your friends on Facebook or Twitter? Their lives seem more exciting, right? They’re at a bonfire or at a party with loads of people on a Friday night, and you’re sitting at home, Netflix binging with pizza. They post pictures of their escapades with their new friends, and you feel guilty for only having three close friends. So, the next time you go out, you make sure to post a status or maybe even a picture of how much “fun” you’re having, because that’s what you do, right? You’re supposed to document everything you do on social media, right? I mean, doesn’t everybody? This creates a toxic cycle in which everyone feels the need to outdo one another in a false reality. We live our lives incorrectly assuming that those around us are happier, prettier, and more successful than us, based on pictures and statuses that they put up. Of course, we don’t know what their lives are really like outside of this social media bubble. We don’t know what they look like when they wake up, whether or not they feel self-conscious when they look in the mirror, how many close, reliable friends they have, or even how happy they are. The same people you envy may very well envy you.

I ended up reactivating my Facebook page last September, 3 ½ months after I had deleted it, for what reason, I can’t remember. I do remember reactivating it with the intent of doing so temporarily. I will be deleting my Facebook page at midnight tonight, with the intent of doing so permanently. I feel like a hypocrite for engaging in behavior that I condemn, and now feels like the right time to bow out.

I hope that you will weigh the pros and cons of social media in your own life and decide whether or not you’re using it as a means of communication or as a tool for narcissism.

A Conflicted Generation

Millennials

Our generation is conflicted in every which way, from our religious and political beliefs to our most fundamental desire to live free and uninhibited lives. While I can’t speak for all millennials, I believe I speak for many when I say that we feel lost in a way that no other generation has felt in over a century.

In the early 20th century, swarms of Americans left their parents’ farms for greater opportunities in expanding cities. During the 1930’s and 40’s, Americans took pride in our rapidly growing industrial economy, giving women their first taste of work outside of the home. The 50’s and early 60’s gave way to the “American Dream,” during which time men were expected to work 9 to 5 jobs, while their wives were expected to maintain the home and raise their children. The hippies of the late 60s and early 70s offered an alternative lifestyle to the disenchanted youth of the day. Men and women were no longer forced into the societal box which the generation prior had constructed. The 80’s and 90’s proved the hippies of the 70’s correct, in that women entered the workplace at record rates, no longer shackled by visions of marital grandeur.

And here we are, my fellow twenty-somethings. Women are now equal in the workplace (don’t even come at me on this or I will cut you), men are no longer expected to be the sole breadwinners in the family, and, furthermore, it’s becoming less and less taboo to forgo marriage altogether. So the question is, what is our generation’s conflict? What great injustice do we face? I don’t believe we have one.

Yet therein lies the conflict…we are conflicted in that we have no major conflict.

A person in their 40’s or 50’s might read this and think, “What a bunch of spoiled brats. They complain because they don’t have a problem to fix.” This is where I believe our generation is uniquely lost. Previous generations were liberated by the changing times. They had a social cause to rally behind. Women were excited to enter the workplace. Men were liberated by the idea that they could chase their dreams, unencumbered by a family.

Our generation is aimless in that we have the world at our fingertips but know not what to do with it. Whether we like to admit it or not, conflict, in some ways, is a great motivator. People, Americans in particular, are driven by the idea that something cannot be done. So what is a generation to do once everything has, theoretically, already been done? We are in good company. Lincoln’s fellow statesmen often complained that they had no great conflict, as the Founding Fathers had already established the greatest country on Earth. Little did they know the great battle that was to come. Perhaps we’ll be fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to live to fight a great battle, whether it be literal or metaphorical.

But for the moment, we’re in limbo.

I often read articles in which the author, presumably in their 40’s or 50’s, chastises millennials for being lazy, uninspired, and unmotivated. Without going into the countless variables (cost of living increases, college tuition skyrocketing, etc.), I contend that our generation is not lazy but simply overwhelmed. While I’m incredibly grateful that my parents have allowed me to live with them for so long, I feel as though they expect the world of me, which is largely why I’ve decided to shun the field of politics as a profession. I don’t have the longing to achieve greatest in my bones as they wish I did. I want to live a simple life. I want to live in a small cottage in western Montana and raise a family out in the country. I want my children to be happy with what they have. I want to play with my kids and teach them how to farm and fend for themselves. I don’t want to raise my family in a metropolitan area, where they’ll be inundated with messages of over-consumption and greed.

Our focus, I believe, should be examining the idea of happiness and contentment. We all have a different vision of happiness. For some, it IS a large home and a fat income, and that’s fine! Lol. I’m nothing if not pro-capitalism! But if your vision of happiness is living a minimalist lifestyle in a small home in the country, you should be encouraged to chase that dream as well. Just because you don’t dream of conquering Capitol Hill, that doesn’t make your dream any less valid.

Determine what happiness means to you, and go for it.