Today’s Digital Individualism

By Gabriella Kovalenko, 11th Grade Student at New Milford High School

In the impressionable early years of adulthood, young women encounter a domain of standards, beliefs, and moral obligations marked by the transition to independence. Among the newly discovered principles is the importance of a distinct identity, one not influenced by society but by one’s passions and personal outlook. Although “uniqueness” is a desirable characteristic in itself, it is apparent the young women of today are challenged by the ideal of individuality and are increasingly more likely to become engulfed in the face of conformity.

Whether the issue lends itself to the overuse of technology in our largely digital world or the diminishment of creative outlets aiding young women discover and pursue their interests, girls of the twenty-first century are striving to be more like others than themselves. Channeled through television screens, magazine covers, and the actions of young women around the world are several unanimous standards of the rising female generation, and the culprit is social media.

Screened by millions of teenagers on a daily basis, online social platforms transmit opinionated and sexist standards young women are tempted to follow and comply with, promoting a movement of mass conformity. Social media users quickly become familiarized with references such as “the common white girl,” without pausing to consider what attributes comprise such a term. If the stereotypical”white girl” is a Starbucks-loving, iPhone-attached, selfie-taking young woman not representative of the majority of young females in the world, why must others feel obliged to reflect her image? Why do young women feel pressured to become someone they are not? Above all, why is the addiction to technology feeding on individuality and evading the hobbies and traditional social interactions of girls?

Self-expression is a fundamental role of a woman and one fewer young women are learning to implement every day. Concealed behind the screens of glowing devices, girls are more adept to navigating social media than experiencing the world in the formative years of their lives. Young women tend to set standards of comparison, compromising dignity for their acceptance in society while losing their authenticity. Thus, the challenge for many is maneuvering past social pressures to create true friendships, honest actions, and decisions reflective of one’s character.

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In order to reestablish positive standards for young woman, social media must be controlled to some degree. Far too many girls believe others must validate their appearance, feelings, and thoughts by unveiling of their personal lives through the nearly obsessive use of technology. Paradoxically, many girls who don’t feel comfortable interacting in person look to social media to feel in control, securing their social lives through social media stats rather than lasting experiences. Even if reality carries the risk of meeting social difficulties, escaping them through digital connections as opposed to friendships removes the value of interactions on a daily basis.

I strive to consolidate the connections of girls with themselves, strengthening the power of self-worth and encouraging truth in every young woman’s beliefs, values, in order to establish the power of female worth around the world.

This blog post was an entry into Young Women Rising’s annual essay contest in which 11th grade students were asked, “What is one of the most important issues facing young women today and how do you see yourself having an impact on that issue?”

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