The gap between this generation and the previous generations might be the largest yet due to the rapid expansion of the technological world. In fact, rather than a gap, we could call it a chasm. My parents grew up without a cellphone, the internet, or any form of social media. For us, that kind of life sounds unimaginable and terrible, right?
We use our smartphones for everything — from taking pictures in class when the professor changes slides too fast, to finding the way home when we’re lost. If you have a question, you can open Wikipedia. If you’re bored, watch Netflix. If you feel homesick, Facetime your parents and friends with the touch of a button.
There are literally websites for everything! 7CupsOfTea.com for those who just need to talk, Thriftbooks.com for anyone with a hunger for reading, and KhanAcademy.com for those who want to learn. We always have something to do online — something to learn. As websites form and new ideas begin, more and more people are finding themselves sucked into the world of technology.
This constant flow of information has aided our generation in our growth. Our ideals and values have changed so much. Rather than blindly believing all the facts our parents or other family members throw at us, we have the opportunity to find out about it ourselves, to read about it, and to form our own personal opinions even if they are different from the ones we were taught as children.
In an interview with Newsbeat, Daniel Hollard, who suffers from depression, talked about how his father suffered from Bipolar disorder, “He was never able to speak to anyone about it. I’ve had therapy, I’ve had medication, but in his generation, if you had problems like that you kept them to yourselves because it was a sign of weakness.” He stated that building a support network online has helped him tremendously because you can rant to people anonymously and take comfort in the fact someone knows what you’ve been going through. “If you’ve got a support network online where people have the same struggle, I think that’s really important.”
Twenty-three-year-old Sophie Hawker explained that social media is an irreplaceable method of self-expression that allows her to speak to people around her about her problem, “It gave me the confidence to talk about it in real life because I’d already practiced talking about it online. I’d learnt more about it too, so I felt I could explain it to people a bit more.” James Wiffen, a Blogger, even explains how he related to Sophie’s story, stating his blog is the “…most effective and advantageous way of expressing how I’m feeling, and allowing others an insight into my state of mind.”
“I found people that I could talk to about my problems, who were facing the same issues at home and people who helped me find the courage to talk to my mother.” said Seventeen-year-old Leena Keskar. Keskar says she finds refuge in her Instagram account, and believes the friends she has made through the apps and social media have made a huge difference in her life.
YouTubers like Zoe Sugg and Lilly Singh have also come out talking about their anxiety and depression. To know that someone out there feels the same way that you do, and can wake up every morning and feel good, is a constant reminder that things get better.
If I spoke to my parents or my family about feeling depressed and feeling as though I couldn’t get through the day, they would have laughed at me and told me to go to school. My parents and grandparents did not believe the mental illnesses we know about today was something that required treatment. However, I do believe mental illness is real. Social media, news, and personal experience have taught me to form my own opinions. I understand where my parents are coming from. They never had the access to the information that I do now, but at the same time, they allowed me to see their side of the story, and allowed me to choose for myself what I would like to believe in.
Social media has allowed us to be open-minded — to have a say in what we do and to be who we are. It helps us find acceptance, find people we can relate to, and close the distance that oceans and seas place between us. We, quite literally, have the world at our fingertips.