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Reaction to Zadie Smith’s “Generation Why?”

Although Smith’s article was merely a critical review to the motion picture, The Social Network, the entire article questions the motive behind the creations of these phenomenons and why it’s a piece of our culture. We view it as a genius now, but it was only just a ‘stupid idea’ that a college nerd had because he was mad at his ex-girlfriend. The creation of Facebook did start out as merely a communication site for peers among colleges, but now it’s safe to say that it’s because outlets and a source of distraction for billions worldwide. She also confronts the reality of why people truly engage themselves in social networking. For most people, they would establish Facebook as their primary source of contact to their friends, family, etc. but there are other forms in which we can communicate those we need to, I mean it was done for years before. If we wanted to keep in contact with someone we would find a way. Smith states, “It is a way for everyone to connect, also in very positive ways” in which I agree, but also disagree. Now people through social networking sites are able to extend connections with others that have common interests, publicize events, and even spread a positive word about global issues. Yet still, people are creating superficial connections with others that they place under the category of “friendships”, but in reality these aren’t friends, let alone acquaintances.

            People now through social networks engender this newfound persona behind a screen, ones that people would want to be perceived as rather than their true selves. In The Social Network, I recall Zuckerberg being extremely nervous to even just confront his ex-girlfriend about his website in person, but he was able to blatantly write all sorts of harsh remarks on the web with no hesitation. I feel as though people should take responsibility for what they expose on the web, but because of no consequence, most won’t. It’s based on the morals of that individual. “When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced,” writes Smith. “Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships, Language. Sensibility” and in a sense I agree with this because people subject themselves just be ‘liked’, but then it no longer makes them unusual. It all goes to show how at the end of the day it’s all a basis for judgment and who will like you based on what you like, what your relationship status is, your personal photos… etc. People used to be a mystery on the web, but not anymore. 

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