This comprehensive report, “Digital Natives With a Cause?” by Nishant Shah and Sunil Abraham attempts to defend the best intentions of digital natives and seeks to contribute to the current lack of academic literature about the identity of Generation Y. We are described as “without agency, solipsistic, and hedonistic, thus dismissing his cultural interactions and processes as trivial, and implying he lives for indulgent consumption and personal gratification.” The constant criticism is heard quite clearly and remains ringing surprisingly well within our young ears for a generation supposedly diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. We’ve managed to utilize digital communicative technologies to expose ourselves on the Internet and place our vulnerable selves onto mainstream pedestals for all to see. Children are finally being seen as well as heard and the adults don’t like it. I appreciate Shah and Abraham’s efforts to support us digital natives and to even perceive the complexity of digital natives as an area that demands imperative research.
Despite all the self-gratification we digital natives like to indulge in through likes and comments on social media platforms, we are actually left insecure about ourselves due to a lack of acceptance from our main role models, the adult community. Powerless, self-centered, and self-indulgent are stereotypes we’ve been sentenced to bear upon our identities. Even when young artists take initiative to challenge social media and disprove the illusion of an absent-minded generation, their efforts are dismissed and satirized. The Vice article features an Instagram artist who constructed a pseudo-representation of herself through her posts in an attempt to, “reproduce[d] our obsession with self-branding to show that we don’t present ourselves through Instagram, we create selves through Instagram, using a series of cultural and material markers of identity.” The artist, Amalia Ulman, even titled this performance as “Excellences and Perfections” and follows this movement of post-Internet artists like Ryder Ripps who seek to “unsettle our comfortable relationship with technology.” Vice, a cultural source produced mainly by digital natives, diminishes the significance of Ulman’s performance, ending the article on a sneering, sarcastic note. I can understand on both ends, why Vice treats this artist as someone lesser than a traditional performer as well as why Ulman’s performance remains so intriguing and casts a point. What I do not exactly understand is where this contradiction emerges from. Digital natives themselves seem to be walking paradoxes, embracing technological growth at one point and attacking those who provoke it the next.