“We met through VSCO” is a sentence that I never thought I would hear in my lifetime yet I shouldn’t be surprised.
After all, I heard it on the same day that I saw a girl, who couldn’t have been any older than nine years-old, walking with her friends, while texting and complaining loudly about Instagram.
The age that kids begin venturing online is getting younger and younger these days to the point where twenty-somethings like ourselves seem like prehistoric fossils, simply because we opened Facebook and Instagram accounts at the age of thirteen.
When I got my first phone at the age of eight, it certainly wasn’t an iPhone. It was an old Samsung, nowhere near as fancy as today and purely for safety reasons when I was waiting for a lift home from school.
The internet and gaming capacity were nowhere near as advanced as it is now.
Social media platforms as we know them either hadn’t been created or were in their early stages of their inception.
My earliest “social media networks” were online game websites like Stardoll, Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin (sadly, two of these are no longer available to play.)
I even joined social media as a bit of a late bloomer in my Leaving Cert years, simply because I didn’t feel the need to join. But I still consumed media through mediums such as YouTube and Netflix, exposing myself to media saturation that way.
There’s the age-old tendency to see content creators and celebrities on social media and be envious of their carefully created life.
But on Instagram, I saw that the people I knew from school were doing the same thing to an extent. It quickly made me feel a little bit rubbish about the fact that I wasn’t posting on my Instagram story every two seconds.
Twitter, on the other hand, introduced me to “cancel culture” and being quick to mentally jump on the bandwagon on whatever scandal is ongoing.
These two sites in general can make me sometimes feel anxious and apprehensive towards the world.
In fact, two of my closest friends have outright quit social media, sticking only to WhatsApp.
They often ask why I don’t follow suit if it it’s so nerve-wrecking.
And I always joke that it’s because of the memes. Someone needs to provide the group chat with the memes.
That, and because you can curate social media to motivate and educate yourself.
Following accounts on topics and areas that genuinely interested me and doing a “spring clean” of accounts that I followed improved my Instagram feed.
TikTok has taught me that I can’t do any of the dances to save my life, while my YouTube subscription feed has evolved with my preferences of content through the years.
There’s so much more I could say about growing up in the digital age that it would be almost impossible to avoid rambling about it.
But instead, I can offer a bad and oversimplified metaphor.
Social media is a bit like chocolate – it’s advised to have bits of it in moderation, it can be easy to overindulge. And of course, there are health risks of consuming too much of it especially on our mental health.
But if you can find the good stuff, it can make life all the more sweeter.