22 Signs You've Found Your Best Friend Forever. 29 Problems Only Procrastinators Understand. The 47 Absolute Greatest Dog Gifs of 2013.
These titles, all taken from the popular website Buzzfeed, pop up on our Facebook Newsfeeds every day, inundating us with lists on lists on lists. I've recently read several articles weighing in on Buzzfeed (and the many other sites like it, including Upworthy) where writers slam the website for its poor level of content and its detrimental effect on the field of journalism.
Laura Thompson, the views editor at the University of Georgia's newspaper "The Red & Black," blames the influx of admittedly fluffy and less-than-educational content on "the laziness of the 'Buzzfeed generation." For Thompson, the creators of Buzzfeed articles only write them because people (i.e. millennials) read them, and an increase in page views means an increase in paychecks.
It is, once again, our generation's fault.
To Thompson and the hundreds of writers of millennial-bashing columns – just stop. The constant stream of millennial attacks has gone on long enough.
Everyone has an opinion on how millennials are destroying America – we must have everything instantly, we are too self-involved, and, according to a certain Daily Beacon editor-in-chief, we don't realize that "success won't be granted for just showing up."
It's good to be aware of your own shortcomings, and of certain commonalities that occur during a given time, as long as we remember these shortcomings apply to every person, in every generation, in every civilization since the beginning of time.
Every. Single. One.
And when we are so quick to find character flaws in each successive generation, we fail to see the truths underlying technological innovation that unite us across differences in age.
On the surface, Buzzfeed is a site full of intentionally eye-catching headlines and humorous (though not always accurate) takes on current events. Beneath the constant sharing of Buzzfeed articles is a desire for common meaning across our generation.
Thompson describes a typical article as "usually prefaced by a sentiment along the lines of 'Haha Nos. 4 and 16 are totally us!'" The fact that we do this indicates a need for acceptance, a want to participate in the collective joke. We American millennials are proud of our old-school Nickelodeon, Mean Girls-obsessed upbringing, and we look to make connections with people based on these common ties.
Social media itself is an evolution of the basic human need for other humans. Throughout history, young adulthood has been a time when youth search for acceptance – both from others and from themselves. The youth of today are no different; in the 60s and 70s, kids turned to rock n' roll. Now, for better or for worse, we turn to selfies, likes, and yes, Buzzfeed.
Baby boomers measured success in monetary wealth, having a good job, and living in suburban comfort. I could point to our country and its increasingly-divided government, its economic recession, its sometimes sickening obsession with celebrity culture. I could raise my eyebrows and say condescendingly, "Now, I wonder who got us there?"
Some, maybe even many, would say I have a decent argument.
But to do that is to undermine an entire generation's great accomplishments; to do that is to place blame rather than look for solutions; to do that is to naively think that my generation is better, smarter and more equipped to deal with the world's problems.
I have hope we can improve, that humans are capable of learning from our mistakes and evolving as a species. But history doesn't lie, and human nature is quintessentially the same whether you are a 20-something in 1814 or 2014. Our circumstances and technology are different; our character and potential for either greatness or utter failure are not.
People can and will continue to argue about Buzzfeed's place in our culture, just as 20 years from now we will find some new youth movement to argue about. But if we spend too much time calling each other out relentlessly on our shortcomings, we all will have lost our chance to unite trans-generationally for a common good.
We will want to make a lasting impact on the world, but our time will be up.
Claire Dodson is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.