Have we met? Welcome, Facebook class of ’14

I’d like to begin with a disclaimer: I am, perhaps more than anyone I know, a product of my generation. A student of print and digital journalism, I’m in a constant flurry of media production, consumption and skeptical evaluation. Of course, the immediate reaction is — who isn’t?

Alissa Masutani | Daily Trojan

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you with Millennials. Although I might have a biased view, I believe this demographic has distinguished itself from those preceding it in unimaginable ways.

A paradigm shift has occurred in the mindset of college students in the United States, leaving us to muse about how and why we became the Zuckerberg Youth and the implications of our Web 2.0 lives. Whether or not the conclusion will be that we are doomed to become vegetative slaves to our flat-screen TVs à la Wall-E or if our postmodern outlook will be our saving grace has yet to be determined, though my inclination is that it’s going to be a combination of the two.

USC serves as the perfect backdrop for this type of self-examination, as it’s a university at the forefront of technology, whether in Annenberg School for Journalism & Communication, the School of Cinematic Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering or simply in the bookbags of students traipsing down Trousdale Parkway. Textbooks are morphing into eReaders. My classmates are starting to read Aristotle off their iPads.

Consider the epicenter, that magnificent altar of blue and white: Facebook. Let’s be honest. I’ve been hitting the refresh button on my newsfeed every 10 minutes as I study; it’s become subconscious. Half of my brain is stumbling through a course reader while the other half guiltily remains fixated on the latest trivial conversation I’ve read between mutual acquaintances.

As freshmen we were introduced to a whole new kind of Facebook fixation, in the form of college groups. In the age of keeping tabs, joining the 2014 group for your college-to-be serves a number of purposes.

On a superficial level, it’s a subtle way of boasting your next stop for those not bold enough to make it status material. But the dynamic of the group itself is what’s most interesting.

Our parents’ generation talks often of those first awkward encounters on move-in day, meeting your roommates, dorm mates and classmates for the first time. They could have been right-wing, fire-throwing, Russian literature majors from Bangladesh with a passion for taxidermy, but that would simply be something you’d have to uncover along the way.

But Generation Y the group, and the requests start pouring in. We got to “know” some of our classmates long before we stepped onto McCarthy Quad. I can’t help but wonder how much of the online footprint reflects the real one? Walking through the dorm hallways, I’ll see a familiar face I know in the context of discussion forum posts on the web. But some of us cross the ogling line when they post their major, residence hall and a brief synopsis of their life story online — and I remember it?

Having predisposed ideas about my peers coming into school was both a blessing and a curse. It made me feel more confident about the environment I was stepping into. I knew some names, some faces, who was friendly and who was, well, too friendly.

But there’s also something to be said for discovering a person in the context of a completely fresh handshake and a few unassuming questions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being overly optimistic — even in scenarios like those, I’m likely to return to my dorm and scope out my new friends’ profiles to see if I read them right. When I go to check Facebook and see Grizzly Bear listed under the favorite music of someone I judged a bonafide hipster boosts my ego just the tiniest bit.

Part of me wishes that we could strip the Facebook identities away entirely and get to know each other from genuine face time. Too bad we’ll be too busy stalking the girl down the hall.

Allegra Tepper is a freshman majoring in print and digital journalism. Her column, “Talkin‘ ‘bout my Generation,” runs Tuesdays.

1 reply
  1. Elizabeth Soriano
    Elizabeth Soriano says:

    It’s funny how we rely more on these site to meet one another when we could just wait for the first time we actually meet the people in person. I admit, I’ve added people before I met them online and I’ve added people even after I just met them in person for the first time, but we should still try to embrace the feeling of meeting someone new completely by just meeting them in person.

Comments are closed.