I was diagnosed with depression when I turned 16 years old. Shortly after, I started medication and began my journey into therapy. The worst thing for my depression was attending school every day. Now, with that being said, I homeschooled for three years and was just as depressed if not more, however, I found the days I spent at home in the comfort of my bed a lot safer than bearing the wild weathers of high school.
I believe the social aspect of high school has changed drastically. I know many people, especially individuals over the age of thirty deem teenagers to be nothing more than a lazy, selfish generation of humans all wrapped up in a screen. I think that the internet has spread more awareness than ever for incredible causes.
The #MeToo movement was originally started on Twitter. The acceptance for same-sex couples and marriage equality began when LGBTQ films, programs, television shows, and YouTube/digital media platforms expressed a need for equality and painted same-sex couples as the exact same to heterosexuality.
The very first time I realized it was OK to be gay is when I began watching a social media influencer start his coming out journey. I was raised in the south my whole life, in a right-wing Christian conservative home.
I remember being 13 years old and sitting across the lunch table informing a girl how it was an abomination for gay people to be together.
I had no idea what the meaning of this word really even was at the time. I just knew I heard adults around me say it all the time so it must be my job to regurgitate that knowledge which I had no understanding of.
I remember avoiding watching his coming out video because it felt dirty to me. I felt guilty watching LGBTQ content because I thought it was something I was supposed to be against as a Christian.
I came to the realization how incredibly wrong I was.
I watched video after video of coming out stories and came to the obvious realization that love is love. Love doesn't come in one form there is absolutely no "one size fits all" way of going about such an overpowering emotion. Love is beautiful and to know love is to know perhaps one of the most beautiful things this earth has to offer.
I started watching live coming out videos then looking at other LGBTQ+ content such as Strut the show produced by Whoopi Goldberg featuring the very first all-trans modeling agency. Then, I went through every episode of "Ru Paul's Drag Race. "
One of my very first LGBT movies I watched was "Carol." I remember watching the love the two women in the story held for one another and being completely mesmerized. I found such a raw display of emotion and lust to be beautiful and wondered why it was under constant condemnation by those around me. I grew to have a strong, beautiful understanding of the community and was an ally by the time I was a junior in high school, only to come to the conclusion I was bisexual myself as well as gender queer/androgynous.
To come to this conclusion, I think the internet does wonderful things. It makes us feel like the world is a lot smaller than it really is and connects us in a powerful way. I think opinions are more widely discussed and different points of view are a lot easier to view. From information to social rights, to online streaming, the internet truly does have it all. I have been blessed to have learned so much from it and to often feel a lot less alone through the internet as well.
However, with that sense of inclusion, I think there is also a whole lot of isolation. I often times feel like it is now easier to express ourselves through a screen than it is in person. I watched a video of a woman who had just turned thirty and she said they would often just drive to one another's houses if they had something to say.
Something turned inside me. If I ever had anything to say, I can guarantee I would just shoot them a text message. Maybe a Snapchat if they didn't answer the text. Even talking on the phone can sometimes feel like a bit of a tiring task. Communication seems to have died down quite a bit since the era of social media and I realize my blatant hypocrisy in saying this seeing as I take part in almost all forms as well. I have a Snapchat (follow me at lizziebowen17) I send text messages, I have an Instagram although it is rarely used, and I have a Twitter. I use all forms of social media, but just because I use them does not mean I am incapable of seeing the blatant flaws within them.
I remember liking a boy in school. We talked at school, but for some reason, they didn't seem to be quite enough. I added him on Snapchat and it was only then that I truly felt we had gotten close to one another. As I watched sadly when a relationship blossomed between him and another girl, I questioned my friends why I literally never saw them talk.
"They talk on Snapchat." She informed me. I was baffled. I felt like I had received some sort of punch to the gut.
They talk on Snapchat? What could this possibly even mean? What happened to using the vocal cords you were blessed with to express what you wanted to say?
Now don't get me wrong. I, myself, often times will send a text instead of expressing my emotions or having a confrontation in person because it is simply a lot easier. However, I realize this as a flaw within myself. I need to be more comfortable expressing myself verbally instead of hiding behind a screen.
However, it seems that our form of communication has deeply shifted. I have found myself becoming one of millions of people who would prefer to speak over a screen than in real life.
This does not mean that I constantly hassle people who use social media and chastise them as most elderly people do to millennials. I believe the internet has supplied us with an abundance of helpful resources.
However, I think like any useful tool, such powers might have been abused. I have wondered if I should just text people instead of having a conversation with them in person and at times, I find myself unable to decide what to say when I do actually come in contact with them as almost all my thoughts have been typed out already.
I do not think the upward spiral of depressed and lonely teens has all to do with our new era of communication. I think that there's the homework gap where the generations before us experienced a much lighter load of work thrown upon them. I also think that we have a whole new basket of fears regarding recurring school shootings and gun violence. There was always horrors going on in the world, but I think now we are able to capture that horror and share it with the world.
I have always wondered what social media would have had to say during World War I or World War II. I'm sure there would be an abundance of criticizers, riots, as well as meme pages making a mockery of the entire incident. We, as a people, like to make light of important things very often. It is a coping mechanism I think my generation has adopted.
On the night of the election, as I felt my heart sink within me, crying for hours upon hours, going to school late the next day, I scrolled through a bunch of stale jokes, memes, and other things making a gross mockery of a horrible saddening situation. I think, perhaps, this is why there is such a deep divide between millennials and the older generation.
The world has changed so drastically so quickly. There's online dating, apps that bring you food, our phones talk to us now, we communication with touches of a button as opposed to the vocal boxes that are within us. Life is different and with those changes have come pretty drastic adjustments.
I find myself sad a lot. I feel very alone through the hollow surroundings of the screen. Although there are times where all I want to do is be in my bed, typing up stories or watching my favorite YouTubers I find that sometimes the screen brings a sort of loneliness that I have lived with for a while and truthfully can't imagine living without.
The world is a huge place but the virtual reality we have created makes it feel a little smaller.
What you do with this information is your choice.
That choice could determine your destiny.