By Hannah Kurosu

When I was in 5th grade, my parents took me sailing around the Pacific. I did not have much say in the matter as my parents decided we’d go on this adventure before I was even born. So during my entire 6th-grade year, I was living on a catamaran and traveling the French Polynesian Islands. With no phone, no computer, and no Internet.

Eventually, my parents choose to return home, and I was re-enrolled to my original school in 7th grade. (My school goes from Pre-K to 12th grade). Things had most certainly changed. Besides my peers’ new physical appearance (puberty) and the new social elite (I mean it is middle school), they also had an online presence.

 Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat were where most of them spent their free time with cringy poses and even cringey-er captions. I didn’t understand any of this, just coming off a boat where I lived like a “caveman” for a year. So, you could see my confusion when people started asking for my Insta username and “Snap.”

I also came to realize how much it had affected the lives of my friends. The painful backstabbings on leaked social group chats, the concerning “friendships” via social media with strangers, and the fear of not being “liked” by randos on the Internet. I didn’t need any of this, so I began to distance myself from my friends for the longest time, afraid that this toxic cycle of social media would ultimately impact me.

Eventually, I learned that with the coming of technology, it’s inevitable to avoid these sorts of things. I began to understand that it’s about how a person uses the Internet and social media. It’s about having the ability to rationally understand what is essential to a person in the long run. Not to be consumed by addiction and fears that stem from using the Internet. Now even I use Snapchat to contact my friends (The only social media account I use), and I’m able to do so because I can understand what matters to me: my future, my family, and my friends.