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When considering the concept of Generation Z culture in 2014 or 2015, a gallery of imagery races to most minds. It was a memorable era for music, social media aesthetics, and YouTube. From the Arctic Monkeys logo to Playlist Live vlogs, I consumed a lot more media in those years than I do now. The collective tone captured by the internet in that time span was comforting in a way; I was only one in a gallery of imagery.

Though there will always be outliers, I noticed a lot less judgment on social media then than I do now. This is partially due to the increase in “cancel culture” and social awareness, but in other ways due to the vulnerability everyone then held. It became so easy to explore different subjects and pose new perspectives on them. People overshared in memorable ways, leading to iconic vines and Tumblr posts still circulating to date. Furthermore, I believe this era was really important to a lot of the people within Gen Z. I was only in middle school at the time, but the charm was undeniable of the lives that the first “social media influencers” created for themselves before the toxicity was added to the industry. I spent my days daydreaming about one day being able to buy haul-worthy amounts of clothing or attending VidCon.

The 2014 internet actualized dreams in times the 2021 internet would shut them down. In some cases, the naivety of romanticization makes the 2021 internet safer, but in others, the unapologetic mindset of 2014 breeds much more creativity. Every lifestyle was made into art; there were alluring galleries picturing all types of careers, destinations, and lives. Personally, I’d spend hours consuming media about my dream travel destinations, leaving me more informed about where I’d like to study abroad or visit one day.

I now mirror parts of my 2014 internet experience with Pinterest dream boards, an anomaly of the 2021 internet being focused heavier on images than comments. The only way to replicate the unapologetic mindset is to find images that actualize dreams in times comments would shut them down.

Neha Jammula

U Conn '25

Neha is a first-year sociology major at the University of Connecticut. In addition to writing for Her Campus, she writes poetry and infographics for other platforms. Aside from writing, she creates graphic designs for different organizations.
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