A Teenage Girl in the Digital Age vs. A Teenage Girl 50 Years Ago

Hey guys!

So today I wanted to talk about something a little out of the norm of my usual positive-vibed posts. Not that this one will be negative in any way, but it’s just something I’ve realized and thought a little bit about lately. I recently made a post about Zoella’s new book Girl Online. I’m about 1/3 of the way into the book and my thoughts are the same as when I started: I’VE BEEN LOVING IT. I’m much like her main character and that’s probably a major reason why I love the story so much.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned on my blog yet a book called The Year of Janie’s Diary. This book was published in 1965 and given to my mom from her sister. The book was then given to me to read by my mom. It is a coming of age book just like Zoella’s Girl Online. It was a summer read for me, I believe before high school or even during. It’s an adorable little book that takes the reader through the life of a young girl growing up in the 60’s. I loved it so much and I’m sad they don’t have it available in book stores anymore. I will definitely be passing my copy on to my daughter. The things this girl (Janie) does for fun and where she goes is typical of the 60’s lifestyle; it’s really intriguing to read her thoughts and experience a difficult part of life with her, a time for growing and changing. She is concerned with her looks and has a difficult time becoming a young woman. Looking back on her story, to me her problems seem so fleeting but I know to a girl her age, they’re much greater issues. Similarly, Penny (the main character in Girl Online), has similar teenage issues that are most definitely not going to affect her later in life.

So now let me tie in Girl Online to The Year of Janie’s Diary and get right down to my point…

Some small spoilers about Girl Online will be revealed in this next paragraph. You have been warned:) While both these stories are the classic coming of age tale from the perspective of a teenage girl, there are some major differences that have risen simply because of their separate time periods. A detail in Zoella’s book that becomes important as the story unfolds is the fact that Penny is extremely clumsy and for that she is criticized and shamed. While Janie could be embarrassed in a similar way in the 1960’s, I think it would be a lot less worse than the present day. This is because of technology. Penny ends up having a humiliating moment in her life and it in turn projects onto social media. It is clear to the reader that Penny’s “friends” clearly use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), to intentionally spread her embarrassing moment and make it a bigger deal than it actually was. It amazes me that in today’s age one moment that could have been forgotten in a matter of days in the 60’s can spread like wildfire in the matter of minutes with one simple click of a mouse and exist for months or even years.

I guess what my realization has come to is: how can the same moment in two peoples’ lives be so drastically different? And the answer is social media. Both Janie and Penny are in basically the same time of their lives. Thinking the same things every teenage girl does, going through school, having the same experiences, learning the same lessons that will be needed later in life. But because of negative use of social media, Penny’s bad experiences evolve into something they should never be, which triggers her panic attacks.

Anyways, I just found it really fascinating that two books that I really enjoy, both about growing up, could be so significantly different. They are the same in countless ways, but since they are set in totally different periods, differences arise. But another thing that comparing these books has caused me to question is: why does social media need to be used as a weapon? Why does something that would have been forgotten in the 60’s have to spread so quickly and become some sort of a monster for a girl in 2015? Social media can be used for growing, creating, and nurturing, but some people choose to use it as a tool for destruction. I don’t understand why that is. I think this is a really important point in today’s world and one that has probably been brought up multiple times. While I have never experienced major online bullying, it’s been an issue for countless people and should be brought to an end.

I’m really glad I noticed these similarities and differences between two amazing novels and that I could share it with you all. It’s just something to think about and I hope this helps more people put positive vibes out into the social media world. You’re all wonderful people and I hope your’e having an amazing day!

xx Sage

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