“It made me feel cool,” Poisson said of using the app. “Whenever I travel to places like New York City, I always have to put a picture of the window on the plane.” While millennials also grew up surrounded by social media, they didn’t have 24 as children. /7 hours to access it on mobile, and the platforms that were popular in the early 2000s (Bebo, MySpace, MSN, and AIM) are all but gone, with their creepy memories. On the other hand, Snapchat can easily provide users with their memories of the past few years.
“I think we’re looking back and being like, ‘Who allowed us to publish this stuff?'” Poisson said. “We’re also just laughing at ourselves because the internet has changed so much that what used to be posted normally is now considered ‘creeping’.”
Mille Glue, a 19-year-old girl from Liverpool, England, cringes as she recalls conspicuous consumption as a child. In a recent Snap she shared on TikTok, a 13-year-old Glue arranged her Christmas presents, including a laptop, high-end makeup and £10 and £20 notes.
“I’m definitely more confident now and don’t need to spend my Christmas money,” says Glue, who now considers the position “insensitive and privileged.” Looking back at her Snap made Glue “miss myself when I was younger”; she admits that as a young person she “seeked attention” online and would post to friends who upset her.
“I’m absolutely vulnerable to my peers,” Glue said. If friends would post pictures of themselves going out to dinner, so would she. She found the arrangement of gifts odd, but “agreed” because it was “just something everyone is used to posting”. Both she and Lewington said they wanted to appear “mature” when using Snapchat.
Of course, there is a darker side. Another TikTok trend is that people make videos with the caption, “Unrestricted Internet access as a child” before mentioning something disturbing they see online. “There’s definitely something I can’t help but see on the Internet that I probably shouldn’t see,” Poisson said. On YouTube, which tends toward more in-depth analysis, Gen Z creators have produced videos such as “The Impact of Gen Z Growing Up with the Internet,” which discusses internet addiction, internet buzz, and imposter syndrome.
As they enter adulthood, Gen Zers are able to assess the odd ways the internet has made them behave—from pouring Dr. Pepper a drink to bragging about bedtime. But Glue said she worries about today’s children. “I think kids are exposed to social media more strongly than I do,” she said. “I think it just destroys the outlook on life of young teens because they don’t live in the moment and care more about posting their photo dumps on Instagram. It must be tiresome for their self-esteem and it’s bad because they only put themselves It’s a structured narrative to compare your life to someone on social media.” In 10 years, who knows how these kids—or, for that matter, Lewington, Poisson, and Glue—will react?