Generation Like discusses how social media has created the “like” culture for teens. It can be both empowering and exploitative. Tyler Oakley, a teenager featured in the documentary, has a YouTube channel that boasts over five million subscribers. An aspiring singer, Daniela Diaz, was also featured in the film. The “like” culture is absolutely contagious, especially for people who are into specific “fandoms”. As a teenager, I didn’t know many peers who were nearly as into books like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones as I was. That all changed when I took to the internet, where forums and fanfiction sites made me feel like I’d found a community that I belonged in. I was past my teen years when I finally created my own personal Twitter account, but even I will admit I was slightly obsessed with gaining followers in the beginning, before I felt silly and calmed down.
The documentary features several teenagers who discuss how the internet makes them feel empowered and gives them a sense of belonging. It also shows how companies are aware of this and use it to market to teenagers. For example, Oreo cookies catered to those fighting for LGBTQ rights by making a gay pride themed cookie. This cookie gained much attention, which was good for the company. Social media also has negative conseuquences, however. Diaz, the young singer previously mentioned, especially suffered. “Days after Generation Like premiered, Diaz began receiving hateful comments on her YouTube channel and eventually decided to delete her account” (Lavelle, 2014, para. 10)
A few things come to mind here. For one thing, I believe that those who consider the internet to be the downfall of our society are at best, dramatic, and at worst, ignorant. The exploitation of teens is, sadly, not extraordinarily new or shocking. Speaking from my own experiences, I didn’t use technology as much when I was a teen as I do now (I didn’t even own a smart phone. Gasp!), but still feel that the media tried to take advantage of me every chance it got. When browsing through teen magazines, swimsuit models that made me overly paranoid about gaining weight, and that’s just one example.
This is why I feel technology is not to blame. Social media is, like most things, defined by what our society makes of it and how we choose to use it. The one thing that is important to note is that technology makes it easier for teens to be exploited, because they are now being used to help companies market their products. It also makes us more aware of it, because it’s there on the internet for all of us to see (and raising awareness is the one good part about this). The documentary’s narrator evens says that “liking” products defines this generation’s culture, in the same way that a T-shirt or poster defined his culture as a teen. Still, social media does make it easier for corporations to take advantage of teens, and we need to be aware of this.
Lavelle, M. (2014, August 5). What Did “Generation Like” Think of “Generation Like”? Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/what-did-generation-like-think-of-generation-like/
Rushkoff, D. (2014). Frontline: Generation Like.