“We asked teenagers what adults are missing about technology. This was the best response.”
MIT Technology Review, December 21, 2019
Humans and Technology
by Taylor Fang
“Social media allows young people to explore how they express themselves, says Taylor Fang of Logan, Utah, the winner of our youth essay contest.”
“What do adults not know about my generation and technology?” MIT Technology Review posed this question in an essay contest open to anyone 18 or younger. We received 376 submissions from young people in 28 different countries. Many were angry; some were despondent. We think the winning essay, by Taylor Fang, presents a nuanced and moving view of how technology can be harnessed in the service of a richly realized life. We hope you agree.
Screen. To conceal, protect, shelter. The word signifies invisibility. I hid behind the screen. No one could see through the screen. The screen conceals itself: sensors and sheet glass and a faint glow at the edges; light, bluer than a summer day.
The screen also conceals those who use it. Our phones are like extensions of our bodies, always tempting us. Algorithms spoon-feed us pictures. We tap. We scroll. We click. We ingest. We follow. We update. We gather at traditional community hangouts only to sit at the margins, browsing Instagram. We can’t enjoy a sunset without posting the view on Snapchat. Don’t even mention no-phone policies at dinner.
Generation Z is entitled, depressed, aimless, addicted, and apathetic. Or at least that’s what adults say about us.
But teens don’t use social media just for the social connections and networks. It goes deeper. Social-media platforms are among our only chances to create and shape our sense of self. Social media makes us feel seen. In our Instagram “biographies,” we curate a line of emojis that feature our passions: skiing, art, debate, racing. We post our greatest achievements and celebrations. We create fake “finsta” accounts to share our daily moments and vulnerabilities with close friends. We find our niche communities of YouTubers.
About the Author:
Taylor Fang is a senior at Logan High School in Logan, Utah.