I am a kid who grew up on the Internet. Ever since I was 5 years old, I was obsessed with what the world wide web had to offer. At that time, I had gotten my first Webkinz plush doll (a panda bear that I appropriately named “Little Bamboo”), I played numerous games on pbskids.org and would soon discover the current biggest video provider in the world, YouTube.
YouTube was the first true social media platform I used and it was my favorite for the longest time because of the endless amount of content it had to offer. When I first used the platform, I mostly watched Britney Spears music videos and viral videos such as The Gummy Bear Song and The Dramatic Chipmunk because…what else would a 7-year-old in 2007 watch?
After becoming officially engrossed with everything YouTube had to offer, I started branching off to other websites: Facebook in 2011 and Tumblr in 2012. Facebook is where I would interact with relatives and classmates or just post YouTube videos, and Tumblr is where I would reblog (ie. repost) text posts, photos, and GIFs related to my interests.
Social media started becoming a huge influence in my life. Because of YouTube, I wanted nothing more than to go to VidCon in Anaheim, CA to meet my favorite YouTubers, but that never happened. When I eventually started to lose interest in YouTubers, Tumblr stepped in to help fill the void. I started getting into anime, Doctor Who, and also rock bands.
Facebook, on the other hand, started to become a place where I would be constantly reminded of how lonely I felt. In 7th grade, I started experiencing extreme loneliness as I lacked close friends and as well as a healthy self-esteem. I felt like a burden and I felt that I had no one who really cared about me.
“I felt like a burden and I had no one who really cared about me. “
When I first realized I had some kind of depression, my coping mechanisms included spending a lot of time on the internet and listening to mostly All Time Low, which was my favorite band at the time. Then, inspired from I had seen on Tumblr, I started getting a lot of band T-shirts from Hot Topic and wanting to go to concerts. I was trying to find a form of protection or rather, an escape from the internal pain I was experiencing.
Over the next couple years (2013-2014) I got a Twitter, an Instagram, and a Snapchat. I was growing out of the depression I experienced in 7th grade and thus started to be more social on the internet and also in real life. When I lost interest in All Time Low, I abandoned Twitter and continued using my other social media accounts. I returned to Twitter after rediscovering my love for the band/artist Panic! at the Disco, and I still use it to this day for related content and interacting with other fans.
Throughout the years, I think Tumblr has had the biggest impact on me. It helped me develop my own music taste, made me more aware of current events/issues, nurtured my self-confidence, and it was particularly informational about the LGBT+ community. It helped me figure out my sexuality and made me more open-minded and accepting to others.
To conclude, I think social media is incredible. It can become an unhealthy coping mechanism for someone with depression/low self-esteem and can be very addicting (like the app Tik Tok, for example). But I think it has enriched my life. It’s helped me discover my interests, get me more into politics, and broadened my horizons to different perspectives and experiences. And for that, I am extremely thankful.