“I think she needs therapy”
she announced to me, gesturing good-naturedly at her daughter when I
bumped into them shopping together at Westfield. This friend, L, is 25
and living at home again with her parents. She moved back a few months
ago in that boomerang way Gen Y does but in the three years since she
last lived there, a couple of things have changed. Well, one thing.
It’s called the internet. You may have heard of it.
L’s mum is worried that her daughter has no life. She’s worried that
her daughter is an anti-social freak. She’s worried that her daughter
is addicted to her computer on which she does things her Mum doesn’t
really understand. She’s worried that her daughter seems to spend more
time alone in her room than she did when she was a 14-year-old Goth.
And weren’t those happy days!
As far as I can tell, my friend is fairly normal. She works in the
marketing departmernt of a big beauty company, has lots of friends and
has been single for about a year after a few consecutive long-term
relationships. She’s bright, bubbly and appears outwardly happy. Not a
prime candidate to be hauled away by the men in little white coats. Not
from where I’m sitting anyway. But her mum is having a hard time
reconciling her daughter’s life with anything resembling her own life
at 25. For this woman in her fifties, technology seems to have widened
the generation gap between her and her daughter into a bewildering
This is my friend’s daily version of events: “During the week, I usually come home from work at about 7, chat with Mum and Dad for a few minutes, then go straight to my room where I jump into bed and turn on my laptop. My routine usually is check Perez (perezhilton.com – a gossip website) in case anything has happened in the 30 minutes since I left the office. Then I check the download sites for new episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or Entourage (or whatever I’m obsessed with at that moment) then I turn on my MSN Messenger to see which of my friends are online. While that’s happening, I also have my hotmail open which has all the email alerts from my Facebook and Myspace pages.”
If you are over a certain age, you may be thinking “what the hell is she talking about?” and you would be well within your rights to do so. The fundamental shift in the way young people are socialising is more dramatic than at any time for generations. It’s impossible to overstate. It’s life, Spock, but not as we know it.
Socialising on Myspace and Facebook suits me quite well because I am a fast typer.
About how she thinks i need therapy because my life is now lived online?
Anyway… Mum (but for the sake of this story lets say a friend) thinks that because i preferr interacting with all my friends online or through posts on facebook or Myspace i need therapy, because actually having to see people bugs me now. I have even noticed it too. I can only seem to tolerate people when i am at a bar or somewhere i can circulate. Going out to dinner or hanging out with friends seems to really irritate me.”
One night i went to a friend’s house for dinner where her and her flat mate both have laptops (and a really fast internet connection). As there was a few of use there for the night i was worried that i wouldn’t be able to use their laptops I brought along mine just incase. I am not kidding when i say that all of us just hung out, each of us on our own computer. At times we would even send messages to each other.
Now i do not classify myself as a geek, quite the opposite. I have a lot of friends, have a healthy social life and try to be a little bit of a trendsetter if we are being honest. I’ll go out 2-3 times during the week and every night on the weekend. But the minute i come home, the internet comes on and i check all my messages. Even at 3am after a big Saturday night out i will flip open the laptop and there will be someone online.
Most nights i will have between 15-20 people online. I don’t chat to them all, there are only a few that i chat to every night. I absolutely love it. I don’t have to talk to anyone but still keep in contact and have all the girly chats i used to over the phone. I can’t remember who said it at dinner, but they were asking if i miss out all the emotions to which i replied… there are emoticons for that. Very funny
I can definitely see how my interactions with people have changed. If they aren’t straight to the point I get frustrated because I am used to online chatting which is short n sweet. Oh god perhaps I do need therapy. I was even thinking of buying one of those new hiptops for when I am on the bus to work I can check my emails and chat with anyone on msn. I really do have a problem.