Elissa Maudlin is a sophomore journalism news major and writes “Abstraction” for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
I am a part of Generation Z, the generation most renowned for having advanced technology and the internet at our fingertips our entire lives. We are the generation that received the tools earlier generations worked hard to create.
To some, we are the lucky ones who can get anything we want with the click of a button.
I’ve lived with this mentality all of my life. I’ve typed numerous search phrases into Google to answer my most obscure questions and watched more YouTube videos than I can count. My screen time ranges from seven to eight hours a day, and I take pride in being part of our world’s future, not falling behind and reminiscing about its past.
Yet, I can’t help but feel like this internet era is hurting us and not in the way previous generations sometimes soapbox us about. The internet gives us a direct outlet for one of our biggest problems — our own impatience.
When we can get the world’s answers with the click of a mouse, it’s hard to not expect the rest of our lives to follow suit with this quickness. It’s hard to not want all of our problems solved in a minute's notice, our identities and life paths figured out in a week.
The problem is life doesn’t work this way. Life isn’t like Google. It’s an entire journey where you don’t get your answers until later down the line — if you get answers at all.
Life’s processes are often very slow. Giving birth to a child, finding your soulmate, getting a high-paying job, etc. all feel like centuries because that’s the way life works.
One of the most tiring life processes is finding your passion and what you’re meant to do in the world. Most college freshmen don’t wake up knowing exactly what their purpose is, and, for some people, that doesn’t change much as a college senior. The process is tedious and exhausting, with dead ends and plot twists at every corner, and, no matter how hard people try, it doesn’t go any faster — that’s not the way finding your passion works.
If big life processes take time, people should be willing to journey through them and explore themselves in the meantime, right?
Yet, that’s not at all what I see from myself and others around my age. I see people rush to find their soulmates and hate themselves if they aren’t married at 22. I see students put themselves through debilitating stress if they don’t have their career plan mapped out after college. I see people run circles around themselves for things they cannot control, the things life unfolds naturally when the time is right.
The fact that we’d google all the spoilers to our life rather than experience them maybe isn’t something exclusive to just Generation Z — perhaps, we are just a byproduct of the same need for control previous generations felt as well.
Technology is a tool civilizations have used for centuries to improve society — at least, that’s what many history classes drilled into my brain growing up. Humans created the internet, which fixed our problem of things being slow and filled our need for fast-paced lives. Our impatience was already there from that first technological invention, and we are just the generation that serves as proof of it.
For myself, this has been the monster I’ve had to face multiple times in my life and continue to face as I get older. My own impatience impacts the way I live my life and makes me feel like I’m not actually enjoying it at times.
I’m so worried about figuring everything out that I don’t stop and smell the roses. I’m too focused on climbing the mountain ahead of me that I don’t see the small oasis next to that mountain with water and food that could enjoy.
If all I ever do is climb mountains and search for the next ones, I’ll climb the rest of my life and never stop — that’s terrifying to me. The whole point of climbing a mountain is to conquer it, but the secret no one tells you is that there will always be another one. If you never stop and rest, you’ll climb forever.
We have created a world with our bare hands that doesn’t adhere to the basic principles of living. Living takes time, things come slowly and revelations occur at a snail’s pace. This directly conflicts with the digital world we created, which has trained us to expect answers in seconds.
When we want the answer so quickly, we miss out on the journey it takes to get to the answer. Part of what makes life so wonderful is the learning that comes with it, the funny moments that surprise you and the curveballs that shock you. We miss out on all of that if we skip the process.
The truth is maybe we are all a part of what I like to call Generation Google, a group of people who feel like they’re falling behind and want to know where they’re heading before they take the first step — people who willingly sacrifice the journey just to get to the answer. If you’re a part of Generation Google, you are so worried you aren’t doing life right that life passes right by you before you even notice.
I am a part of Generation Google, but I’m tired of skipping out on the process and needing all the answers. I just want to enjoy my life and actually live.
Contact Elissa Maudlin with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ejmaudlin.