Combining anecdotes from her own childhood with the voices of male and female rappers, anonymous posts on confessional apps like Yik Yak, Secret, Whisper, and demographic data regarding what’s wrong with millennials, Natalie Shields composes a portrait of a generation that feels a lot but doesn’t know what to do with these feelings.
Shields, born in Seattle in 1993, belongs to a generation of young adults who grew up in tandem with the Internet. Millennials—conditioned participants in virtual romance, fantasy computer game worlds, and robot companions—are supposed to be overstimulated, hypermediated, and unable to connect.
For them, is love—like the floppy disk—a symbol of something now defunct? Is love now a cipher—something that used to exist but has become pure abstraction? Or is it actually the opposite? Is the idea of love so omnipresent in millennials’ cultural discourse that they have monumentalized it? What is it about love that the Internet killed?