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As a twenty year old man, I am still taught the “coming of age” lessons on a daily basis, but it is hard to argue that my experiences of becoming a man (or those of a young lady becoming a woman) were the same as my father’s, and his father before him. Of course there are a million and one reasons why this change has occurred, but there is a particularly glaring one: technology.

Image Courtesy of Flickr User: futurestreet

Image Courtesy of Flikr User: futurestreet

Technology is a beautiful thing, and has been able to accomplish groundbreaking feats, as well as provide humans and living organisms alike, the tools to do phenomenal things. Facebook has changed the way that humans communicate and the internet as a whole has provided outlets for people to share things with the world that they never would have been able to before. While some could argue this is a setback, as they don’t need to hear about “Johnny’s trip to 7-11” or “how high Josh was today”, it has allowed people to find communities that accept their sexual preferences and provided sanctuary to those that have previously “never fit in”.

                              T h e  G r e a t s

  1. Technology and social media have allowed adolescents to find groups of people that they never would have before. According to an article titled, Social Media Use and Social Connectedness in Adolescents: The Positives and the Potential Pitfallswhich was printed in the Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology“Social connections are a central feature of the normative developmental trajectory of adolescence to adulthood.” A great example of generating social connections is through online forums and social media sites, that allow adolescents to find groups with similar interests (keep in mind that I am not unaware of the downfalls of destructive and nefarious social media users).
  2. Technology as a whole, but social media specifically has allowed for people to share via a forum that was not present in the “not-so-distant” past. You may not enjoy the blog of a 50 year old man navigating through a mid-life crisis, but nevertheless, many people like this are in a better place, because they have an outlet to share that they never would have had before: Single, Steve the stockbroker may not have been able to discuss his hectic lifestyle with many people, had he not had a blog to vent on; Adolescent, Anne may not have had a place to discuss how she feels teenage girls are emotionally abused in school for things that young men are congratulated for. And even more-so than the positives that stem from Steve and Anne having these outlets, are the positives that stem from people being drawn to these blogs and vlogs, etc. and finding a new community that they cherish.
  3. While there are many more positive outcomes of social media and technology, there is one last example that I must share, as it holds near-and-dear to my heart: Film-making. Now, before you write in the comments section below, “Luke…film-making has been around since the “zoopraxiscope” was produced in 1867 or earlier, you dumbo” I must clarify that I am referring to the ability for young, broke, but interested and determined men and women to discover their love for film and share their works with the world and via that sharing, be able to express themselves, as I have. Youtube, Vimeo, cheap cameras, and heck, especially iPhone cameras (the 6s shoots 4k video………) have created a path for not just adolescents, but people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities,and species to make videos. It is a daily question for me: “what were you doing that made you happy before you were making videos?” and sometimes I am lost for words.

                              T h e  A t r o c i t i e s 

  1. First, let’s look at a point that I just raised: commenting. Trolls have generated a metaphorical virus that can ruin the brightest person’s day (thus, we must not give into them!) and people who formerly would not have been able to reach a teenage boy or girl or a grown woman writing about women’s suffrage or fair wages, can now verbally revile these people through social media outlets. Aside from people across the country, there are innocent boys and girls who feel pain unlike any adolescent should ever have to, as a result of vicious attacks from, for lack of a better phrase, mean kids.
  2. Invasion of privacy has now become a daily worry. People worry about if the NSA is utilizing metadata to analyze your conversation; celebrities worrying about their personal computers being hacked and having indecent photos of them shared with the world; teenagers worrying about nude photos being passed around, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these are things that were able to be accomplished in the past, but much more consciously, slowly, and on a smaller scale- and what has enabled these people to do this (and a forum to share this information with the world)… technology and social media.

So… growing up in a digital age. It poses it’s hardships, just as our mothers and fathers before had to face. I’ve had to deal with a world of social media disgracing that Kare Bear (mothership) never had to, just as she faced things that I will never have to. At the end of the day though, I see the world as a more open, free, and creative place as a result of the ever-developing technologies of the 21st century as well as the social media breakthroughs that have changed they way that we communicate as well as the way we share, FOREVER.

Featured Image Courtesy of Flickr User: Sean Salmon.

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