Where Social Anxiety Begins And Ends And Then Begins Again…
I know it’s cool now, but all of this social media stuff rendered me the exact opposite way back in 2006–2007. I oftentimes talk to my teenage brother about the things that are cool today and it usually makes me feel very jealous.
If I’d had grown up in his era, I’d have been one of the popular kids (and that is seriously beyond my realm of comprehension). People would have loved me. Think about it: I make videos, I shoot photos, I am artsy, and I am beyond weird and that is the exact kind of thing that kids today aspire to be. In fact, when I ask him how people perceive what I believed to be the normal, he talks about them as if they are the outcasts.
It’s almost as if the entire world flipped itself on its head in the last decade or so and it’s become incredibly hard to navigate the universe as a human that is an unpopular person that is suddenly hip to people way too young to even converse with (luckily, I have my little brother or it would be a complete god damn anomaly to me).
When I was young, way back in the early 2000’s, it was a serious faux-pas to carry a camera around with you. I was mercilessly picked on for doing so back in 2002–2004, even as far as being called a total fucking creep for taking photos of everything (and I didn’t know why I did it then and still don’t now, which lends credence to them and also defies those same people now when I see their posts on social media).
And yet, today, that seems to be the norm. Okay, fuck it. It doesn’t seem to be the norm. It IS the norm. I wouldn’t have even had to have taken a camera around with me back then if we’d have had the technology we have today (my iPhone camera is seriously fucking ridiculous). If you’d have told me in 2004 that there would be mainstream platforms available where kids actively showcased their creativity (Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, etc;), I would have thought I was in a parallel universe.
Back in my day (and I know that’s a ridiculous sentiment to make, but I feel like my grandparents that spoke of walking uphill both ways in the snow to get to school when I talk about this), but it wasn’t so easy back then. I had to get an entire server to myself. I had to learn what FTP meant and I had to learn how to correspond the files on those servers to the websites that literally nobody was looking at. There was no YouTube. There was no such thing as social media apps. There was no social media AT ALL. It literally did not exist yet. I had to learn coding and website terminology and, even when I had done that to the best of my abilities, there were still no platforms to showcase it upon. Hell, back then, there was barely even a MySpace. At that point, MySpace was the site that kids YOUNGER THAN ME used. It seemed silly to even have a profile of my own.
But my friends and I did it ourselves. We made little films and we did photo projects and we wrote together and we did all the stuff that is suddenly hip and cool to do now. There is a part of my old-age self today that feels so validated that those loser kids were so far beyond the curve that we unintentionally turned the shit that was uncool into the stuff that is ridiculously cool today. I have friends that started platforms and websites that these young kids use every day and that is beyond cool to me.
On one hand, I am so optimistic about the youth of today because I know they’re doing all the same stuff I did back then (and people actually give a shit now!). But I’m also monumentally bummed out because there is a part of me that feels like I was born about fifteen years too soon. When I see my little brother show me videos of him and his friends making short films and THAT is the very thing that makes them cool? It literally feels like I am in some alternative universe. The same things that make kids cool today are the very things that made me decidedly uncool back then.
I would like to believe that I paid a sacrifice of some sort. And not just me. But all of those loser kids that had an eye and a heart and a vision. The next generation looked at us and I don’t think anybody in my generation pays much affection toward that (even though we really fucking should).
And I suppose that’s why I am writing this article right now.
Somebody I went to high school with bumped into me at a bar tonight and they demanded to buy me a drink. He remembered pushing me into a locker as a kid, remembered the times that people were cruel to me based upon bullshit that he himself had at one point started. He told me:
“Hey man, my kid is making videos on his phone all the time and I feel like such an asshole for being so rude to you back then. I honestly just bumped up his coverage so he could keep doing what he’s passionate about. He loves the same stuff that I used to make fun of you for loving. So let me buy you a drink because if anybody treated him how I treated you, I would rip their fucking throat out and I’m sorry.”
And of course, I let the guy buy me a drink. I appreciated his insight and his self-awareness. And he even gave me a hug when I left and told me again how sorry he was to have ever treated me so poorly.
But people like me (not me specifically, I never really did shit with myself, but people like me), those are the ones that control the world now.
We were ahead of our curve. The popular kids in rural areas now think artists are the cool people. At least from the vantage point that I look upon.
And that’s something that I will always be proud of. The kids of today will always have an outlet. And that will make them a better generation than mine in the same way that having the internet at all made my generation better and more empathetic than the one that preceded it.
The future is bright even though the present is ridiculously screwed up. The kids of today have a level of self-awareness that is unparalleled to anything we have ever experienced in modern history.
We don’t even have to guide them. They have entire years on their phones and a level of self-awareness that people in my generation would have scoffed at.
So keep that in mind in these lean times where everything seems so fucking chaotic. Our generation will suffer. But this next one?
They will fucking prosper.
I guarantee you that.