By Marin Helppie-Schmieder
Distinguished Young Woman of Texas for 2012
If something very important happened in our World today and you wanted to get every single detail so you could be properly informed, would these words be enough for you? I would say if you were born around or after the 90s then ‘Yes’ would be your answer. For my generation, 140 characters is all we need. But what does that mean for the generation after us? Twitter and Facebook are great ways to positively connect with friends and family, but there needs to be some recognition of how social media sites are slowly changing our generations vocabulary and thinking right before our eyes.
Take for instance the phrase, “Are they F.B.O. yet?” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this phrase asked throughout high school and now college between classmates. Parents, if you are unsure of what this acronym means, I will let you know right now the ‘B’ and ‘F’ have nothing to do with “Beiber Fever.” However, it is an acronym that is feverishly catching on. It simply stands for “Facebook Official” and it is only asked when one wants to know if two people are dating. Thinking about how commonly this phrase is just thrown around, it makes me wonder about past generations who didn’t have computers or Facebook. How would anyone know if two people were dating? Simple. They’d ask. So how has this simple task been turned into a simple phrase asked among peers other than the F.B.O. couple themselves? It’s not necessarily a bad thing using acronyms for sayings, but when it hinders our ability to talk to each other directly, then it must be questioned.
“Waking up to your college roommate singing Whitney Houston into a fake microphone at the tops of her lungs…#Firstworldproblems.” Now, if you have never seen the hash-tag that is at the end of that sentence, what would you think, “first world problems” means? If you’ve figured it out, are you at all slightly offended that the common phrase “third world problems” (which arose during the Cold War Era) has morphed into somewhat of a joke for our generation today? I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, and hash tagging is great when you want to really point out something or get that Twitter Feed buzzing. But next time your roommate is belting out the final key to “I Will Always Love You,” please think to yourself, is it really necessary to label that event as a “first world problem”? Maybe there’s a better way to say it.
Media is a useful tool. It has the power to impact masses of people simultaneously. Whether this power is for the better or worse, it is accurate to say we truly are a “sound bite generation.” From 140 characters on Twitter to YouTube videos and Facebook, we are simply a generation of short, straight to the point posts. If it weren’t for the singer Drake, the phrase “YOLO” would not have been used by my high school principle to encourage creativity, or said by my friend when she decided to talk to the cute boy she’d been eyeing. I wouldn’t have been made aware of the situation in Uganda or Kony had it not been for the YouTube video that has over ninety-three million views. Media has a way of connecting the world and its people, making the planet we live on a little bit smaller. I’m not upset that instead of asking a couple if they’re together we whisper “F.B.O.?” to our friends. Or instead of “Carpe Diem” we shout “YOLO.” In fact, it makes our generation unique. But, if we become unaware of the negative effects of media in our everyday lives (our 140 character limit on expression, hash tagging about “first world problems”), our generation will be in for a wake-up call later down the road. So before I end this post, I have one last piece of advice: Be aware of the ever-changing world of technology and how it shapes our generation. Don’t blindly follow, but make your own way and discover the positive effects of media to spread your message, and to let your voice be heard in a positive light.
Marin Helppie-Schmieder is a college freshman at the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania majoring in Modern Dance. Originally from Carrollton, Texas, Marin was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Texas for 2012. Learn more about Marin here!