Social media trends don’t tell the whole story of Gen Z | Teen

Social media has a very real impact on the way my generation is viewed. The older generations and society at large are paying attention to our social networks like Instagram, Reddit or Facebook to try to ‘understand us’. And while it’s a good idea to go and talk to someone, people pick generalizations so whatever’s big on social media becomes quite representative of Generation Z.

Although social media is probably not the worst way to look at what Generation Z is. The newest generation of adults is creating and accelerating much of what is out there on the internet after all – from designing memes to popularizing new websites. But there are thousands of cultures on the Internet, and one culture is only a partial reflection of the real world and culture as a whole. It is complicated.

The people who create the content try to keep up with the popular culture in order to stay relevant and thus they try to become a part of the pop culture by “influencing” us and starting trends. This is great when trends are good and fruitful. Take, for example, phenomena like a funny cat video or someone who makes really good cooking blogs. I really enjoyed the boat building videos on Youtube. Social media trends can also help people share their opinions to help with social change. Certain projects and movements would not exist if social media did not give them a network.

Social media platforms have the potential to change our lives as they put a weight on who gets to vote online. Different sites can use algorithms to promote the news we consume, the products we buy, and how we think and understand what is happening. It happens through targeted advertising, constant excitement, and grouping of people into like-minded camps. We must be wary of all this.

Lately, I think the trends promoted by my generation – or at least those seen as popular – have moved in a disturbing direction. Consumer culture, which affects us all, places greater value on social media, which is of increasing importance in our lives as its political and social power becomes more visible to officials. But it is important to remember that the Internet is not the real world, nor does it fully represent the interests of an entire generation. It is simply another layer of reality.

Social media platforms used to be just for talking to people you know and sharing photos and opinions. Think Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Platforms like YouTube value creative and well-produced videos. This content has not always been available to everyone for free, and good content is a true art form.

Enter TikTok, which was launched in 2016. The startup completely rocked the internet culture by offering anyone a new opportunity to create content. She leveled the playing field with a three minute limit on the videos. The app focuses on eye-catching entertainment for instant gratification and has paved the way for social media to shift in a direction that is easy to imitate and is part of the trends. That’s great in theory, and I’d say it’s a somewhat welcome change. I suspect that the older generations and the media are trying to understand the so-called Generation Z culture like this stuff. It is easy to digest.

But trends on social media are not always a positive development of the status quo. Social media is in large part an outlet for people with marginalized identities or beliefs to find a sense of belonging. It is important for people to find a community of course, but the internet today is not censored by society as a whole. What is considered normal and “appropriate” has to be challenged, but we also have the status quo for a reason, and the issue is that some of these societies exist in a space where the norms of society are absent. In the case of conspiracy theories, it’s dangerous not to own that network. As platforms like TikTok improve their ability to allow anyone to become an influencer, they incite the easy fabrication of misinformation and confirmation bias.

Just watch one post from someone saying the vaccine “magnetized” him, well, here we go. Of course, it would be easy to denounce this as misinformation because it’s ridiculous, but people don’t know any better in a medium where the creators seem reliable. Unlike the real world, there is no one online to say “Have you lost your mind?”

While many trends are very accurate to the zeitgeist, they tend to be overshadowed by people’s innate desire to be affected and involved in something.

In the event that people are doing rather suggestive dances on TikTok, lowering their car to the point where you’re scraping the ground, or doing other embarrassing and questionable things for the sake of internet influence, that’s concerning.

Someone might see this stuff glorified on social media and think it’s cool. But it’s really worrying for some of us who don’t care much about online platforms, because what seems to be more common determines the reputation and identity of my generation’s interests.

When a community chooses to adopt a particular phenomenon on the Internet, it is very selective of a very specific group. Trends and the people who set them have the power to influence the lives we live. This is the nature of consumer culture. Companies are already using trends on websites in an effort to market to our generation.

We are fed with information and that makes up our identity. We are told either subconsciously or directly what we feel and how we think. It leads to social change, but does social media promote trends in a holistic that represents everyone? It’s a complex question, and people need to determine how they feel about it for themselves.


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