How the Internet Fosters a Never-Ending Cycle of Pressure
October 20, 2022
By: Sneha Rao
Raised alongside the boom of social media and viral media, Gen Z has become, by far, the most impatient generation. We started seeing this trend of short-length, attention-grabbing media emerge with the launch of Vine in 2013. This platform thrived on 60-second videos that attracted people's attention, notably humorous and relatable content. After the death of Vine, we have seen other social media platforms take over Vine's place in this quick-satisfaction form of media. TikTok, Instagram reels, and YouTube shorts are all forms of media that dominate in 2022, all taking advantage of Gen Z's short attention span. There is a large appeal for this short-form content which ties together with our generation's addiction to instant results. In reality, most of the course of life does not happen so instantaneously. But the pattern of Gen Z shows that we may not be interested in whatever takes longer than we hope for.
Courtesy of Vantage Circle
In 2022, instant gratification is a big appeal businesses use to attract users. Getting quick, identifiable results are largely preferred to committing to a long period of time working on something to finally produce some kind of result. An article from Forbes demonstrates this interesting concept; it states that in the modern day, loyalty in a business is tied to simplicity. Signing up for subscriptions with leading corporations such as Netflix or Amazon takes a maximum of 3-4 steps, allowing users to get instant usage. Almost everything in our lives can be achieved through an app or a couple of touches on a screen. Do you need a ride? Your Uber will arrive in 3 minutes. You’re hungry? Tap and get Chick-fil-A delivered to your doorstep. Even a concept that one never thought could be virtualized has. Lonely? Swipe right.
In a video interview, author Simon Sinek addresses the repercussions of how incredibly impatient the rising generations are and how it can impact aspects including mental health and work ethic. With a generation widely used to getting instant gratification from posting a photo on Instagram, or the digitization of every thinkable service, how can we be satisfied with having to wait out something long-term such as working towards a 10-year career goal or waiting for an investment to return a profit? In addition, social media gives us access to people from all walks of life. Social platforms like LinkedIn constantly remind us that there is someone out there with "better" internships and a "more successful" career. Instagram perpetuates false realities and creates triggers for insecurities and mental illness. The inability to deal with this social disparity or "wait" for such good things or strikes of luck to happen to the rest of us, leaves room for the mass population to feel unsatisfied with where they are in life, with what they have, and constantly feel they are not doing enough. Sinek explains that such issues exist with our generation that, unfortunately, the most meaningful parts of life can’t be delivered to your door. There is no simple solution or app that will grant “job satisfaction and strength of relationships”.
Although social media has proven itself to be somewhat of an informative lens for the public, there are more often than not, unrealistic expectations being set. Think about scrolling through your "For You Page" and seeing a multi-million dollar mansion with a 25-year-old saying, "Follow me (sign up for my course) to learn the tips and tricks that got me this mansion! You too can be successful like me!" Or, how often do you come across a video similar to the lines of "a day in the life of my 9-5 as a banker in New York City" video? These types of media glorify lifestyles through a single-faceted, staged projection and perpetuate the false notion that such aspects as success or dream jobs can be acquired in 3 simple steps. It seduces users into being trapped in a never-ending cycle of pressure to constantly be doing the next best thing and producing instantaneous results.
Courtesy of View Sonic
Looking at this theme through a smaller lens, let’s analyze Stern. As a freshman at Stern, there are only so many things I have observed in my few months of attending college. However, I've had experiences meeting someone new where I’ve been asked for my LinkedIn instead of my Instagram, an experience unique to attending NYU Stern. Previously, if people were to make some sort of judgment on others based on how my Instagram feed looked, now it was also based on the number of connections I had. Depending on this judgment, students will choose whether it's worth continuing the conversation with someone, befriending someone, or taking advantage of someone's resources. This toxic, ingenuine dynamic is only exacerbated when people believe it is necessary to get that referral, secure the dream internship, or climb the social ladder. This toxic cycle can only improve with the full disclosure of realities, not social media fallacies.
The Long-Term Solution
So when can this cycle of obsessing over unrealistic fantasies end? Unfortunately, there isn’t an instant solution to this problem. The concept of being fulfilled with what is present may be easily understood but definitely is not as simple to live out. But over time, with consistent realizations that life fulfillment will not necessarily come from achieving these lofty goals, it is hopeful that Gen Z will be able to achieve satisfaction with simply the process of working towards something or even with the understanding that individuals have different life trajectories. Working hard towards something that cannot be attained easily is a testament to the lengths you can achieve for the future. Arguably, it will be a more valuable experience compared to whatever instantaneous achievement could grant you.
Hello! My name is Sneha Rao and I’m a freshman at Stern studying Management and Organizations and pursuing a minor in creative writing. One of my passions is writing, so I’m super excited to explore more topics intertwined with business through the blog! Keep an eye out for more content from the Content Committee!