We are the ‘generation of the selfie.’
I am not just referring to the awkward, impromptu, cell phone camera-hogging madness that has swept across the world–from teenagers to popes to politicians. I am referring to the fact that we are the generation raised with the idea of a great and awesome spectacle that should be revered and celebrated: Me.
From Instagram to Facebook, from reality shows such as Jersey Shore to the Kardashians–we seem to have an obsession over documenting and projecting our lives and ourselves on every platform imaginable. True enough, the most popular medium these days also happens to be the most potent: the Internet. Its combination of technology and inward gratification makes our world so much smaller in two very different ways.
Technology makes reaching out easier than ever before. With the click of a button, I can peek into the lives of hundreds of young people my age in every corner of the globe. Our world is more connected and involved today than it ever was in the past. Every day we figure out new ways to make what was once impossible, possible. Through innovations in the field of communication, we have built imaginary bridges as real as those made with metal and concrete. Today, ideas can spread faster than wildfire with very real consequences. Information, once costly, is now free. Today, the entire world is accessible through a 1 inch-thick laptop computer that would have easily taken up a whole 20 x 40 square foot room less than a hundred years ago, or better yet, through 1 tap of phones that have become “smarter” than we are. Our world is smaller but ironically, we have followed suit.
Today, with the click of a button, I can post my “vacay pics” on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all at once! Technology makes sharing everything with the world easy! Yet in the age of interconnectedness, instead of branching out, we retract back into ourselves. We make our own world smaller. Like a bird that has grown accustomed to a closed cage for so long that it has forgotten its love for freedom, we prefer hearing the echoes of our own opinions and voices ringing back at us more than listening to others. Instead of opening our arms to the world outside, we choose to stay confined to ourselves. Ignorance is a choice and whoever chooses to be ignorant today has built his own cage with locks stronger than any man-made jail or oppressive regime.
We have made our world smaller in two ways: in a positive way, and in a negative way. The outlook (or rather, “inlook”) of today’s society is not necessarily always negative. We are a generation more self-aware than those before us and that is positive. However, extreme self-inclination unchecked results in self-isolation. Too much of a good thing can become bad. In this case, if we are so self-inclined that we ignore anything beyond ourselves, it becomes our own cage.
However just as we can choose to ignore the world beyond ourselves, we can also choose to be aware of it. This is like flipping a switch. There is no logical reason to remain in the dark. Once your eyes adjust to the light they will never be satisfied by anything less than the rush of seeing everything illuminated.
Let’s cast ignorance into the shadow of a new found light—the one we forge only with the help of those around us.
Then we will have shed light upon every dark space, every crevice that once existed between those places we could reach and those that we couldn’t. Under this light is what we have achieved–a world illuminated with possibility. The world was never as big as when it was in the dark, unknown to us. Under the light we recognize the truth: all the world is only an arm’s length away. We merely needed to step into the light to see it.
By Isabela Marie P. Bertillo, a regional intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office