I look at the black screen, habitually click the power button and stare with no avail.
The scenario rarely happens, but when it does, I always get anxious when my phone dies.
Along with most people my age, I have been raised in a world of constant information. The Internet, laptops, smartphones and forms of social media allow us to access a virtually endless stream of information. Most college kids scarcely remember a time without the convenience of Google or texting.
This discussion of rapid technological advances receives much attention and truly isn't anything new. "Generation Y," or people born roughly between the 1980s and early 2000s, ushered in a new era of knowledge and access – and we know it. Yet, consistently, another assumption unfailingly accompanies the discussion of our generation.
They call us the "Me Me Me" Generation – the generation defined by entitlement, self-indulgence, narcissism, impatience and dependency on virtual social constructs.
Time magazine released a popular article about the nuances of today's youth and cited studies describing large increases in narcissism and entitlement. Changes in the social culture of youth have sent adults scrambling to understand new avenues of communication.
The attack on the collective character of my generation – usually from older generations – sometimes carries validity. But frankly, the same individualism, which now receives such harsh criticism from older generations, cannot be disconnected from the same fierce desire for "natural rights" and independence that brought forth – and often defines – Western civilization.
Psychologists have long studied the differences between individualist and collectivist cultures greatly and the subsequent effect on the mentality of the nation's people.
Naturally, the deeply independent and innovative threads that are so strongly valued in American culture didn't simply emerge with the second millennium.
Our country began with the decision of countless individuals to encounter the unknown and endeavor to create an entirely new life. New traditions formed, and a new culture – based on individual rights and freedom – began to underscore American ideals with unencumbered strength.
Additionally, "Manifest Destiny," a term frequently used to describe America's geographic and idealistic expansion west – and ultimately around the world – remained rooted in cultural individualism. Each person could pursue one's ideal life; dream-seekers from all parts of the globe migrated to the new land in search of independence and freedom.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, innovations of business and transportation – the creative use of the machine and entrepreneurship – effectively propelled the United States to be the next world power. Industries began to boom and desire for riches, wealth, and prosperity opened doors to the shrewd. America rose to be a world power; creativity, innovation and opportunity continue to thrive in the U.S. to this day.
However, the new frontier has come.
Americans – and people around the world – continue to push and strive for new ways to expand and experience the "new frontier" and not all frontiers are geographic.
Technology has unveiled new avenues of communication and interaction that were not previously possible. Young people have harnessed this new ability and created incredible varieties of information and collaboration.
Naturally, the technical changes in a relatively short amount of time can be rather astonishing – but young people are well equipped to forge a new era of creative, virtual and technological expansion.
Individualism can often blur with self-absorption; however, to pretend that Generation "Me Me Me" strays impossibly far from the previous American generations would be absolutely incorrect. Though the mechanisms are different, the innovative spirit remains the same.
The letter has become the email; the notepad has become the laptop; the Polaroid has become the selfie.
The precedent of our creative past demands no less of the future – and the avenue of technology has proven full of potential.
Whenever I lose my phone, I nearly go into a panic.
But when I find it I check my texts, check my inbox, scroll through missed calls, respond to the Snapchats and tuck it safely into my purse or pocket.
And I'm never sorry it's there.
Sarah Hagaman is a sophomore in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.