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Welcome to the Digital Age: Enjoy Your Stay!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As the story says: first there was heaven and earth. Then, there was light. Soon after, there’s a girl sitting on her computer in the middle of the night with bleary eyes and dark circles. 

At least that’s how I remember it.

Coming of age online coexists so much with my existence that I don’t think I understand a world without it. But there was a world without it, wasn’t there? There was playing on the streets with chalk, going to the library to learn something new because you couldn’t just google it and there was also the intimacy of seeing someone the next day, knowing that it was the only way to actually see them. 

But I didn’t grow up during those times. No, I grew up with an iPod Touch, using filters to make my Instagram look pretty in the midst of being in fifth grade and watching YouTube videos of Bethany Mota telling me how to DIY room decor. I grew up with the reminder that strangers on the internet were not your friends but finding solace in the communities built online anyway. I didn’t have to worry about never seeing someone again because their digital presence allowed me to stalk their profiles for long hours of the night in wallowing pity.

As I grew up, that was when the research started coming in. Is social media making us more depressed? Has social media made us more narcissistic? Do you have a social media addiction? Find out here! There was always the lingering question that kept me up: are we truly connected by the wires that run across the world? Or are we just hooked on as little mice stuck on a trap after chasing its next meal? Does it matter? I’m not sure. 

When you’re a girl growing up in a world with the internet at your fingertips, a new social media every decade and a whole lot of loneliness, you tend to rely on something. You grow up in a society that values validation and human connection — so you go out and find it. Sometimes it’s at home, sometimes it’s with friends at school and sometimes it’s with the other lonely creatures on the internet who feel just the same as you do. 

Defining hyper-connectivity in the new online world isn’t as easy as one might think: it means my generation has higher rates of depression and anxiety. It means I have friends from states I’ve never been to. It means the ever-growing fear of missing out or fear that you’re not doing enough will remain present — embedded in you like a lingering perfume. 

So what does it mean to come of age in a hyper-online, always-connected world? Well, it means a whole lot of loneliness, even with the world at your fingertips. But it also means that sometimes you’ll find yourself staring at the night sky and knowing you’re not as alone as you believe you are.

Part-time pop music enthusiast and full-time bookworm, Kiara is a junior hoping to graduate with a bachelor's in ad/pr and sociology. Her passion for the arts, both written and unwritten, has led her to frequent concerts, museums, and even gardens. Kiara hopes that her dedication to both writing and music will begin her media career in the music industry.
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