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The Notification Generation

Let’s see…Pinterest has four, let’s see, Twitter has two, um, iMessage has three—oh and Email has one hundred and thirty-two. Four, two, three, one hundred and thirty-two what? What do these numbers mean? In theory, these values mean nothing—they’re numbers displayed on a screen. But these numbers, they mean so much to us these days. I’m talking about the little red notification number(s) on the upper right-hand corner of the apps on my phone.

 

These days a number connected to an application is not just any number—it seems to indicate some sort of attention by one person to another. Notifications represent interaction between people on social media—and while that seems to be a harmless acknowledgement, I’ve come to a different conclusion as of lately.

When people aren’t consistently and constantly getting notifications on their phone it seems they, as individuals, begin to feel unwanted; it’s as if these numbers themselves hold value or insight into a person’s unique being. It’s a sad contemporary phenomenon that has taken place through the technological era—people equating notifications to self-worth and desirability from others.

 

Mostly everyone knows what I’m talking about. This cycle of checking one’s phone or computer to see if we have a text, a tweet, a pin, an email, really anything that might deliver us some sort of notification—a sign that people “want” to engage in some form of communication with us. But it’s a vicious, deceiving, and unfulfilling cycle at that. Sure, the moment we see we have a notification of sorts we get a little boost of happiness or even the slightest positive increase in our mood, but the very second we check the notification, the rush is gone and we’re left wanting more.

Notifications are nothing but a façade—they make us feel like we are of importance to other people, so we pour our self-worth into receiving notifications and checking them (obsessively at times). But, after all is said and done, notifications leave us feeling empty—leave us wanting more. We get rid of the tiny number in the corner of the app and suddenly, just as quickly as the notification was dismissed, we feel (let’s just be honest) empty and alone.

 

We’ve become, as a generation, wrapped up in the world that exists merely online—we’ve lost (or are losing) our abilities to feel confident and secure in the relationships we have in the real world. We think that the “likes” or “favorites” that we receive online somehow correlate to how people really think of us when we’re offline. But for a second here, I’m asking you to think about the “likes” and “favorites” you send off to other people on their posts and uploads; when you send them a “like”, do you actually sit and think about how much you enjoy that person and all of the personality traits that you admire about that person, etc.? No! Of course not. That would be absurd.

You “like” their picture or their status because you’re probably acquaintances and you know of each other in real life—this by no means implies that you put thought and energy into showing the person a little bit of love on their social media. It’s become a mindless habit; after all, it only takes tapping a little heart or clicking thumbs up to acknowledge something online anyways.

We have become a generation engulfed by the gilded nature of notifications. But, I think it’s time that we realize just how unsatisfying notifications leave us feeling the moment after we check them. Let’s work towards putting meaning into our real relationships outside of our social media bubbles—let’s work towards making a name for ourselves other than being branded as the “Notification Generation”, because we’re much better than that.

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I am a resident in the hottest dorm on campus, Pasquerilla East Hall—Go Pyros! Ironically, attending Notre Dame has put me closer to home than I ever was while in high-school or even grade-school—the distance it takes to get to ND from my house is shorter than the distances of any of my previous academic locations (talk about "going off" for college, huh?) Yes, this does mean I'm a townie, but I wear the title with the utmost pride. Currently, I am enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters; I am on the pre-med track in the hopes of eventually becoming a doctor. Indeed, ladies, I do intend to meet my own Dr. McDreamy someday (Grey's Anatomy fans anyone?!) I'm an avid coffee drinker, I'm definitely a health and fitness enthusiast, and my friends all call me either "Megs" or "Hanz" (take your pick). Go Irish!
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