Growing Up in the Social Media Age

Our Everly Mag Writing Leaders were asked to think about their social media journey. We asked them when they started using social media, which sites they use, and how their experience with social media been. We also asked our Writing Leaders to think critically about how social media could be improved, what life would be like without social media, and what they think the future of social media will look like. 

This article was written by our writing leader Emily.  Get to know our Summer 2018 Leaders here!

I still have a screenshot on my phone of my Instagram bio from seventh grade. I had a goofy picture with big sunglasses as my profile, weird fonts to try to look cool, and my username was seriously “@emily_loves_narwhals.” I’m in total shock when I see the perfectly primed profiles of twelve year olds today, complete with VSCO edits and Pinterest level poses. I joined Instagram in its still early stages, before Explore pages could inspire my posts and before there were influencers I could mimic. I’ve grown to watch social media evolve, and observed its effects on how its youngest users interact with themselves and one another.

Image: An example of early Instagram’s popular page, via Vidadesstartup.

Social media has created its fair share of icons that my friends and I have taken inspiration from, from the middle school ages to the bloggers we follow now. I remember when absolutely everyone wanted to look like Acacia Brinley, with her characteristic long lashes and wide blue eyes. Now, my friends are dying their hair like Aspyn Ovard, with her striking blonde (and now partially pink) hair and bright fashion looks. Formerly ordinary people can launch their platform via social media blogs and vlogs of their everyday life and become icons for others to mirror. Those who were followers have become inspired to grow their own following, from Instagram to Youtube and everything in between.


Image: A selfie of a super young social media starlet, Acacia Brinley, from 2012, via Pinterest.

Other networks take a step back from the importance of appearance and follower counts. As I got older, I branched out to apps like Twitter and Snapchat. Snapchat didn’t publicly display a friend count, only a fairly minimized snap score. The more relaxed vibe allowed me to be more comfortable sending “ugly” photos of myself to friends, and the “streak” system gave me an excuse to talk to people every day who I may not otherwise have remembered to keep in touch with. Twitter turned attention to more of a sense of humor and the expression of quick thoughts, and being able to send these things in direct messages to my friends meant we could share jokes and news with each other quickly. These apps remain important to my daily communication, and enhanced it in small ways that I can’t help but be grateful for.

I feel strangely lucky for being able to witness the gradual transition to our social media-based world from my adolescence to now, versus the new wave of kids logging on in elementary school. For those kids, it can be harder to take a step back when it’s the only thing you’re used to. For those just beginning their social media accounts, remember that your whole life can’t be contained in an app. Don’t try to emulate something older than you are – in middle school, you’re not going to look like the college bloggers you follow, and you don’t need the fake lashes and revealing clothes to try to prove otherwise. Continue to spread positive messages to your growing followers, as your accounts are attached to your name and become part of your personal brand. Don’t be afraid to have embarrassing moments –  not everything has to go through a filter.

Who were some of the bloggers that you followed when you first joined social media? Comment below!  

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