Your parents have probably told you tales about their oh-so-challenging childhoods. They had to walk to school, write all of their essays by hand and maintain relationships without the ease of social media. The older generations didn’t have cell phones, computers or TVs to pamper their luxurious lifestyles. They didn’t hide behind the anonymity of a screen or feel the compulsive need to communicate all the time. Your parents didn’t have it easy like teenagers nowadays, they say.
While your parents depict the gaping lack of technology in their lives as disadvantageous, they don’t tell you how it was also beneficial.
The presence of technology and social media nowadays allows for a very public record of a teenagers’ words, friends, opinions, pictures and most importantly, mistakes. The problem with the prominence of technology in today’s culture is that simple mistakes are recorded, made permanent and can then become consequential later.
The older generations don’t seem to recognize this issue because it wasn’t present within their generation. They are quick to condemn teenagers for their social media mistakes, but perhaps this comes from a lack of understanding.
They might not fully comprehend the evolution of communication. Our parents lived in a time period where their words were temporary, their conversations were fleeting and their slip ups weren’t owned by a social media company. Less technology allows for less documentation, which provides a more simplistic and low stakes high school experience, something valuable to adolescents of all generations.
In early March, a video was released of some members of Oklahoma University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity reciting a racist chant. This video diffused through the nation, resulting in the subsequent expulsion of two of the fraternity members, according to The Huffington Post.
While their behavior did deserve the immediate consequence of expulsion, the permanent documentation of this event will follow them through their lifetimes. It will resurface when applying for a job, developing new friendships or attempting to restart their lives. Video footage makes a mistake harder than ever to recover from.
In the European Union and Argentina, legal action has been taken to combat the dangers of this issue. These countries’ citizens can exercise the Right to Be Forgotten, a spawn of the right to privacy, in which individuals can request the removal of data pertaining to them from the internet.
The goal of the Right to Be Forgotten is to allow individuals to “determine the development of their [lives] in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past,” according to The EU Proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation.
by Maeve O’Brien, ’16
Citizens must complete a request form to have links removed from Google’s search engine results to avoid embarrassing or private material surfacing when a name is searched. However, the content cannot be erased from the internet completely.
The Right to Be Forgotten has been considered in several U.S. Court cases throughout the past century. However, its critics claim it violates freedom of expression. Nevertheless, it is an attempt to remedy a deep-seated issue for today’s younger generations, and allows people a sort of a second chance.
Teenagers nowadays walk a dangerously thin line, often without even knowing it. They attempt to balance a socially appealing media presence with a concern for their futures. They continue to matures while knowing the gravity of any lapses in judgement. They conduct their seemingly normal high school lives while still recognizing the lack of room for mistakes, both big and small.