Those of us born between the late 1980s and the early 2000s have been labeled the Technology Generation. We were born into two of the most technologically advanced decades in human history. Roughly forty years elapsed between the invention of the telephone and the invention of the television, but today, we get new iPhones every three years. The Internet, that great expanse of alternate reality that we all love so much, is only about as old as we are.
Technology is evolving and progressing faster than it ever has before and we are coming of age right in the middle of it all.
We have become accustomed to having everything we need at our fingertips. A quick scan of my iPhone apps shows that I can call someone, text someone, email someone, search the internet, go on YouTube, log onto Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, take a photo, take a video, buy music, organize my calendar, listen to music, set my alarm clock, and even read the newspaper, and that’s not even using all the apps I have. Most of these apps required a completely separate device twenty years ago and now it's all condensed into one tiny, lightweight piece of machinery. And I don’t know what I would do without it.
I’m not alone in this. Even if you’re not a slave to Apple, you have devices in your pocket or your backpack right now that can connect you to everything. And you take advantage of that ability hundreds of times a day.
We, both American culture and more specifically, our generation, have become accustomed to having everything available to us in record time, all the time. Simultaneously, we have become curious about everything. Google handles, on average, 5,134,000,000 searches a day (And I found that number via a Google search). Over 5 billion searches every 24 hours. We search everything from “what is the Illuminati” to “how much does it cost to register a car in MA.” We are constantly asking questions and we are constantly receiving lightning fast answers.
Which brings me to the Vlogbrothers (http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers). John and Hank Green’s YouTube videos are a perfect example of our generation’s need for answers and impatience with anything slower than 4G speed. John and Hank make four-minute videos where they discuss everything from giraffe sex http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V4WYvDEjYI) to what to do with your life (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lkn8MS3n8Q). They pose philosophical questions and even cover the periodic table of elements and The Catcher in the Rye in quick, jumpcut style videos.
I think this style of video and its immense popularity is both a response to and a perpetuation of I’ll call our generation’s "Need for Speed."
The videos are almost never longer than four minutes (going over the limit is a punishable offense in Nerdfighteria) and every ten seconds or so there is a jumpcut which jumps from once scene to another. Most of the time the only difference in the scenes is which side of the screen John is on, or which direction Hank’s hair flips, or the way the light changes, but regardless, the point is that we are not sitting for four straight minutes staring at the same image. They are catering to our impatience.
Additionally, they talk about everything. Hank made a video discussing the Aurora movie theater shooting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLxcgMxSCUw), and John made one in response to the Boston bombings (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2X1gA5apcU). But John also made one that parodies sports news casting where he analyzed animals gifs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyz2bryWD8g) and Hank made one last week discussing why fish don’t fart (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysCOI6n6uqs). They cover everything and they cover it quickly.
So why am I not offended when they start talking about my generation or start teaching me about symbolism in The Great Gatsby (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw9Au9OoN88) or the science behind dreaming (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB7HqZc2p2Y)? Because they talk to their viewers like we’re friends. They don’t lecture or spew facts at us for four straight minutes; instead, they have conversations. They talk to each other and they answer commenters’ questions and they constantly thank their viewers for being their inspiration. There is no condescension in Nerdfighteria. There are only answers and encouragement and creativity. These are three things which, thanks to the explosion of technology as we come of age, our generations craves.
We want answers to all of life’s questions and we want them now. So we Google. We want to feel special and different and unique (which this TIME magazine article attributes to our parents’ generation’s parenting practices), so we upload pictures and post statuses for likes. We want to be everything and we want it quickly and the Vlogbrothers style of videos gives us that, which both satisfies our Need for Speed and encourages it to grow.
The real question that all this poses is: what will we become as a result of this? Will we continue our parents' legacies and produce even more machinery to give us even more answers? Or will we eventually come to despise the Speed we are so accustomed to, and blame it for our problems as adults? Every generation rebels against the one before it. So where does that leave the Technology Generation?
Megan Tripp is a junior WLP major who drinks way too much coffee and watches and re-watches Gilmore Girls way too often. She likes shiny things and looks forward to making a career out of making things up and writing them down.