Originally published in The Journal News as part of my monthly “How We Live” Column.
June 19, 2015
I’ve heard many things about my generation — about us “millennials,” as we’re so often called: We don’t know how to settle down; our necks will be forever crooked; we’ll never be able to pay off our student loans; and our ability to communicate through genuine conversation is quickly fading, as is our ability to handwrite.
I agree. Most of that is probably true.
But there is one other thing that trumps all of that and defines Generation Y so much more than a selfie-stick: We travel; we explore the world; we learn new languages; we meet new people; we try new foods; and we practice new faiths.
We are lucky that technology has grown with us, and that better, faster and more reliable means of both communication and transportation have evolved so rapidly to enable us opportunities that have not always existed.
I remember my family’s first computer when I was about six-years-old, which was a Gateway desktop computer. That computer sat unopened in our living room in its large, cow-patterned box for a few days until the technician came to set it up. Back then, the Internet was dial-up, so if my mom needed to make a phone call, I needed to stop playing Neopets.
But that was more than 15 years ago.
Now, as young adults, we can pick up our smartphones or tablets to see our parents’ and friends’ faces and hear their voices from halfway around the world.
I recently returned from a trip to South America, and I am not sure I would have had the courage to go so far from home, albeit for about two weeks, if there had been no way to tell my family that I was safe.
In an unfamiliar place where the language wasn’t my own, it was comforting to know my phone could bring me back home for just a few moments.
We are quick to criticize technology and list all of the ways it hurts society, especially for millennials, but it is incredible to realize how far it can take us. It took a friend of mine and me to Peru this summer.
Just by chance, we happened to be in the city of Cusco during Corpus Christi, which is a major global holiday that celebrates the tradition of the Eucharist. Just as my friend and I were looking for someone to take our photo in front of the church, three young girls, who were around our age, came up to us smiling and with one of their arms extended.
We didn’t speak the same language, but we didn’t have to. We are millennials and we just know what makes a good picture.