As a digital native—a term derived in the early 2000s to describe a generation of young people born into a world inextricable from the imprint of digital technology and the internet—the digital world is one that conjures a multitude of inspiring possibilities and associations in my mind. I’ve been an introvert for as long as I can remember, and connecting with strangers face to face has never proven to be second nature for me. While I undeniably have a shortlist of gripes with my own web presence like everybody else, on a (semi) professional, and academic, and personal level, the opportunities that the digital sphere has afforded me are limitless. In anticipation of a forthcoming career in the field, here are some reflections on the all-consuming medium.
To begin, my developed passion for music is inextricable from the social feed. This is true on many levels. My discovery of new music, for example, would be severely impeded without the algorithmically-determined suggestions that SoundCloud, YouTube, Pandora, and other streaming services provide. In fact, my journey through the Los Angeles music scene as a whole, a journey which has culminated in my current Venice-based internship at a music publication, started in the “related” sections.
In short, after a night of browsing classical music on youtube—a series of search queries that stemmed from my violin lessons at the time—I stumbled upon punk music. Soon, I had found my way to videos that chronicled the history of Los Angeles punk scene in the past and the present. As I soon discovered, the musical tapestry of my home city was endlessly rich, diverse, and open-ended. With the aide of Facebook groups, I was soon getting involved in the scene myself, attending live performances at some of the city’s most storied venues. That was nearly six years ago. Fast forward to the summer of 2016: while my taste, maturity, and educational opportunities have changed, my passion for music has not.
My academic pursuits have also been sparked by these experiences, where I study the digital technologies that deliver creative inspiration to me daily. Ultimately, it was the sleepless nights soaking up all the information I could about various bands, labels, and clubs that drove me to focus on a digital media major. My interest in art history stemmed from something similar. After attending an exhibit on abstract expressionism at the MOCA in downtown L.A. when I was in my latter high school years, I knew instinctively that I had to know more. In the weeks that followed, I researched all that I could about a slew of key movements, artists, and creative epicenters. Just as I’ve turned to a digital media major to pursue a career in the music industry, I declared a minor in art history to delve deeper into a passion that stemmed from the digital sphere.
Heading into my third year at school, I can confidently say that the real, tangible, invaluable experiences I’ve had in the local creative community wouldn’t without my presence on the internet. As the sharing economy expands exponentially, the digital native generation grows more numerous, and as our physical world becomes less and less separable from the silhouettes of augmented reality, the possibilities for digital technologies to serve as tool of education and empowerment grow in tandem. Amidst popular fears over the implications that such technologies may have on our social skills, attention span, and processing speed, the digital world still manages to instill particular hope for the future within me.
Despite the dizzying whirlwind of oversharing and rampant plagiarism, digital technologies remain indispensable for those following a path in the creative community. Whether empowering others with the wealth of readily available educational tools or simply giving brilliant work its due through channels of exposure, cultivating a presence online is integral to maintaining a sense of community among peers.
To other young creatives: What does digital mean to you? Does other creative work inspire you to engage on or unplug from social media? Does connecting through social media channels make you feel more in sync with your peers, or more distant? Do you feel most comfortable displaying your work and/or on photo sharing apps or in person? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Evan is a 20-year-old college student, born and raised in Los Angeles, who has been shaped in innumerable ways by its creative community. He is majoring in digital media and minoring in art history with a dream of working in the music industry since his early experiences at punk shows during his teenage years. Evan currently interns at an online music magazine and ticketing platform, along with a marketing internship at Creative Circle.