Listen to the Kids: The Importance of Youth in Social Media and Society

Photography and Article By Jazmine Alcon

Technology has become the driving force of today’s society. From the newest trends, recent news stories, and the latest memes, technology is the source of it all. The most popular form of sharing thoughts and opinions is through social media. Apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have made the world smaller and easier to navigate. One can easily discover new artists, photographers, and bands. These social media apps, especially Instagram, can turn passion into something much bigger than an individual.

I’ve been an Instagram user for about 5 years now. From simply posting pretty photos to my art, Instagram has transformed into such a big part of my life, one that, quite frankly, changed my life forever. Through Instagram, I started becoming more interested in politics as well as societal structure and my part in it. I gained a substantial amount of knowledge through following people who would vocally speak out about racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and ableism. Over time, I became much more vocal on Instagram and started sharing my opinion over concepts like women’s rights, whitewashing, and the model minority myth and the toxicity of the bigotry and microaggression still going on today.

Instagram helped build my confidence and helped open my eyes to the problems going on worldwide. Without Instagram, Risen would have never come to existence. It has helped all of the members connect over our passion and drive to make the world better in any way we can. Because of Instagram, I gained another family.

Yesterday, I, along with my fellow curator Claire Halloran and creative director Jinny Lee, had the pleasure to host a young artists meet-up in Philadelphia with Instagram. We met around 17 young photographers, artists, and creatives in the Philadelphia area and got to talk with Instagram’s Community Team Representative, Bernadette Anat.

From left to right: Jesse (@jessecarlen), Katie (@katkrobock), and Olivia (@oliviaavenue).

We spent 2 hours having a back and forth on how Instagram could improve, what works, what doesn't work, and what needs changing. We talked about the safety of users, Instagram Stories (AKA a large blessing in my life), algorithms, and the explore page. For the entire two hours, Berna asked us questions and listened and took notes on what we had to say. She took the time to explain how certain mechanics worked on the app. Fun fact, the order of stories lined up on your feed isn't by chronological order but the person you love/stalk/like the most! Over pizza, we discussed how important Instagram was to all of us and to have a safe space.

Berna super focused about Easter Eggs.

From left to right: Anastasia (@thealphina), Matt (@matttepfer), Katie, Olivia, Jesse, Berna (@heyberna).

Jesse Carlen and Olivia Avenue retold the story of how their friendship developed online. They talked about other people they’ve met on the app and how helpful it is with making connections and meeting people with the same interests.

Jesse and Olivia at Pizza Brain

With a company so large as Instagram, I was surprised to see them put such a large effort into coming out and meeting young creatives and hearing them out. Young people have become the driving force in the economy, influencing trends in fashion, music, art, and more. I’ve heard too many adults say that they care about what we have to say and continue to ignore us. So it’s just amazing to see that Instagram genuinely cares about what young people have to say about their app and actually taking our feedback into account.

We want to thank Instagram, especially Berna, for giving us such a great opportunity connecting with young artists and for letting us organize such a magical event. It was awesome to be within the midst of great young minds, passionate about what they have to do and say! Thank you to the adults in Instagram that let us do what we do, connect with our readers, use our platform, and actually listen to what the kids have to say. We hope other adults follow suit! Much love to the Instagram team!

Yesterday captured in one photo.

We want to thank everyone who came out yesterday! We hope you had a nice time. It was a pleasure meeting all of you.

Here are photos of the beautiful minds that came to the event yesterday!
*Sorry for being a super enthusiastic weirdo

Risen's very own Girl Band finally meet for the first time!
From left to right: Claire (@c.eeh), Jazmine (@pettyofcolor), and Jinny (@heart___shaped).

My new Internet mom!
From left to right: Berna and Jazmine.

First generation Risen kids meet for the first time!
From left to right: Teenie (@teeniesan) and Jazmine.

The Halloran Duo
From left to right: Claire and Kerry (@kerryhalloran).
Risen's own creative director, Jinny Lee, in her element.

Teenie's angelic tendencies captured on camera.

From left to right: Ellie (@memeschooseu) and Amanda (@ahickman_).

Matt Tepfer (@matttepfer).

Anastasia (@thealphina).