A post-modern sketch reveals a skewed glimpse into the 12-17 years-old teenage segment of US culture. Not surprisingly, 93% of this fringe of the population explore and socialize online. What? No more malls, beaches, Cafes (in Paris); Those places from now on are old-fashioned and no longer considered hip for rendez-vous! Now, the virtual world is the place to find the “in” scene.
In response to teenagers natural gregarious instinct, social platforms such as MySpace and Facebook have their undivided attention. To navigate the world online, there is no need for a compass, only a mouse and a computer are required! You can be who you want to be, create multiple identities, live out all adolescent fantasies, all virtually, online. (I tried it out –that’s this writer’s prerogative.) One click and suddenly you are among the teenagers or can become one, if so desired.
This new cyber generation of “super communicators” creates profiles (55%), participates in creative activities (64%) in order to get feedback from people. So behind this productive effervescence of enthusiasm and creativity, a latent urge “to be noticed” persists. Isn’t it the pattern of Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” syndrome?
As I ponder over their motivation and freedom, I ask myself, “what purpose do images play?” and “why divulge personal and sometimes private information to the world?” Freedom? Perhaps. The duality of contacting “friends” online who, in the real world, would never have their best friends or schoolmates’ priviledged status. It is no news that the fear of loneliness and the need for acceptance are prevalent in this portion of population. Is it the explanation or is it only because that’s the place hip to flirt?
For “15 minutes of fame”, a man got 14 years in prison for using MySpace to set up a sexual encounter with an 11 year-old Connecticut girl, another adolescent killed herself because of a cyber-bully and two teenagers 15 and 17 years old were killed today by youngsters who found their party through MySpace… The story continues….
For “15 minutes of fame”, some even made it to national TV, (congratulations) good promotional strategy!
What will become of this generation, which has become socialized in a world of virtual reality, a generation prone to experimental marketing, a generation who is forced to function on both a literal and virtual world. What will become of it? We’re certain, there will be another study soon to quantify it. Stay tuned.
Here is an interesting study from The Pew Internet & American Life Project which explores the online habits of teens. Telling read.