13 Apr 2014

"Me" Or "We"?

Are we, the younger generations, becoming more selfish or more selfless?

I've heard the term "Generation Me" or "Gen I" thrown about a while. Often used to describe the generation of people who like to showcase themselves. The people who show intimate pictures and videos of their lives. The people who indulge in selfies and Vines. The people who want quick gratification of their own achievements and products. Can't deny that there's some truth in there. The Facebook Likes and Twitter Retweets and other countable reshares are some of the online imaginary dollars we like to collect to measure our worth on the Internet.

Not just that, there also tends to be a bigger emphasis on pursuing personal passion, I noticed. We hold more individual control over our lives. Because they are our own lives. We're encouraged to not be afraid to do what we strongly believe in. Not like generations back when we may be told to just take the family torch without question, or follow the often-trekked paths without resistance.

Yet at the same time, the younger generations are also becoming more comfortable with the idea of mass collaboration and cooperation. Odd enough that we, with our eyes fixated on device displays and seemingly withdrawing from those around us, are reaching out more often to those whom we may not even see face to face. More of us aren't afraid to discuss ideas and perhaps even do reasonable favours for each other, though we still exercise discretion and self-regulation. The Kickstarter and similar crowd-funding booms, along with the rise of open-sourcing, seems to be quite a big sign of this.

Interesting, isn't it? The continuing advancement of IT has portrayed the young generation as both "me"- and "we"-minded. Or more accurately, it's magnified the corresponding traits of selfishness and community.

So what are we more of then? Obsessed with ourselves? Or passionate about things beyond us individuals?

I'm inclined to say that we're inching towards the latter. Personal observations have revealed that more often than not, we understand and appreciate the spirit of community, perhaps even find ways to improve said community.

We may share intimate details of our lives not just to receive gratification, but also to seek out those of similar interests to bond with. We may buy music albums or digital games directly from the source, not just because we want to entertain ourselves, but also because we want to support the relevant industries' players, to help them stay in the field. Maybe even change it for the better. We may publicly blog not just because we want to be heard, but also because we believe the ideas we have are worth sharing to a bigger audience.

We're finding more and more ways to align our personal desires with the community's.

And it seems like it will keep on going this way. The younger generations seem generally for the free exchange of ideas and innovation. Fighting to maintain a censor-free self-regulating Web. Supporting budding independent projects. Participating in open discussions and collaborations. We may be more open and loud about ourselves, but we also take the group's interests at heart.

That doesn't mean we can't indulge a little in our own selfish wants occasionally, right?