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Column: Living in a digital word

‘I am well aware of the health issues that arise from addiction to digital media.’

%22The+stereotype+is+true+when+it+comes+to+generation+X%2C+at+least+for+me.+I+am+indeed+addicted+to+digital+media%2C+as+I+have+come+to+depend+upon+it+to+live.%22+Artwork+by+Alonzo+Lepper.

"The stereotype is true when it comes to generation X, at least for me. I am indeed addicted to digital media, as I have come to depend upon it to live." Artwork by Alonzo Lepper.

"The stereotype is true when it comes to generation X, at least for me. I am indeed addicted to digital media, as I have come to depend upon it to live." Artwork by Alonzo Lepper.

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YouTube, oh how I love you.

YouTube is the source of all my procrastination, the man behind the curtain, but also my best friend. My relationship with the platform first started when I was 11. At the time I was just a naive sixth grader and some peers had newly introduced me to the video browser.

YouTube used to come embedded in Apple’s iOS, so on every iPod touch in the sweaty palms of middle school students, each prepubescent tween could access the application and its wide range of videos. The first person that I vividly remember watching is Jenna Marbles; her likability and style of personal videos initially drew me in, and from there I found Miranda Sings, Philip DeFranco and many more content creators.

One of the best and worst features of a YouTube channel is that it provides the feeling of a personal friendship, and I for one love the experience. But that’s also the catch; subscribers get to live in a one-sided relationship and although many YouTubers try their hardest to connect with their fans it is never as successful as a genuine relationship.

Every day I tend to follow the same routine: I wake up at 6 a.m., walk to my kitchen to grab breakfast and stride back to my bed to watch YouTube videos while I chow down food. After school I repeat the same process, only this time procrastinating my homework assignments.

I have alternated in content creators that I subscribe to throughout the many years I have been binge watching YouTube videos, but it was not until this year that I found the one person who I can actually relate to: Conan Gray. Most YouTubers appear to live larger than life, often vlogging their travels while flying in private planes or climbing up mountains, but Gray portrays himself as a normal high school senior who struggles like anyone else.

I accidentally stumbled across his AP art portfolio tip video and I can’t thank YouTube’s auto recommend enough. The day I found Gray’s YouTube channel is the day I met my new best friend. I know that my relationship is one sided like any other YouTuber relationship, but I also deny the fact that he doesn’t know I exist.

I have convinced myself I am somehow friends with strangers I only connect to through video segments of their lives.”

To be fair I didn’t know Gray existed until January of this year, but since then I’ve watched all 189+ videos uploaded on his channel and have followed him on his social media accounts as well. I know I’m coming off as obsessive, but I like to tell myself that viewing his videos is like hanging out with him.

The stereotype is true when it comes to generation X, at least for me. I am indeed addicted to digital media, as I have come to depend upon it to live. Thanks to this platform, I have convinced myself I am somehow friends with strangers I only connect to through video segments of their lives.

Although at school I’m a social butterfly, I don’t have many friends. Contrary to popular belief, being a social human being doesn’t necessarily guarantee I am friends with everyone; there is a difference between friendly relationships and genuine friendships.

Watching the videos Gray creates and uploads on his YouTube channel is truly therapeutic. I enjoy all of the deep thoughts and positivity that comes with a friendship, at the tap of a finger on my iPhone’s display. Gray allures his audience by authentically portraying himself as the person he is.

Unlike most mainstream YouTuber’s, Gray does not rely upon fancy gadgets and gizmos to captivate his subscribers, instead he uses his voice to create music and provide positivity to those who need it. When in doubt, viewing one of Gray’s videos usually does the trick to cheer me up.

I am well aware of the health issues that arise from addiction to digital media, both mental and physical, but the feeling of a friendship overpowers the uncertainty in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, addiction of any type often is unhealthy, but growing up as the youngest child in my family and not being friends with many people has led me to depend upon false friendships. As my love for Gray grows, my appreciation and addiction for YouTube flourishes into a newfound sense of self value.

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Column: Living in a digital word