How Digital Media Bridged the Gap

As a young child, I spent the majority of my days completely separated from digital media. My fathers reluctance to expose me to digital media at such a young age provided me with a childhood that I remember to have always been peaceful and enjoyable, especially given the bohemian/surfers lifestyle my parents led. However, as I transitioned into what I suppose could be considered as a more “traditional” upbringing in the city, where I attended a public school with kids who had been using digital media on a daily basis since they were toddlers, I began to think of my disassociation to digital media as more of a curse than a blessing. 

All the music my parents played for me came from cassettes or vinyl records, we read books for entertainment and kept up with pop culture through magazines, and the rare movie nights we had were all watched on vhs tapes my dad had collected throughout the years. Given my parents’ desire to raise my brother and I on the same mediums they grew up with, I came to realize that I was far behind my peers at school when it came to latest trends, video games, film icons…etc. For the longest time I felt incredibly alienated from the rest of the children at school, I loved reading The Surfer’s Journal, and listening to bands from the 90’s such as Mojave 3, Sonic youth, and Elliot Smith and struggled to find anybody my age who I could relate to and share my passions with.

At the age of 7 my family moved to Amsterdam, and due to the lack of swell and surf culture in the Netherlands I began to take an interest in the next best thing, skateboarding. As soon as I’d get out of school I’d rush home to grab my board and spend the hours leading up to  dinner practising the basics in front of my front door. At the beginning of every month I would rush to the skateshop to buy the newest edition of Thrasher magazine and I’d spend the next four weeks reading it front to back, tearing out pages to put up on my wall, dreaming of someday finding my place in the heart of skate culture. As a French speaking young boy I found it intimidating and difficult to insert myself into the dutch skate scene and make friends who shared my passion for skateboarding, so I hardly ever skated anywhere other than in front of my house where I had created my own little skatepark. The curb was my ledge, the speed bump a couple meters down the road was my ramp (which felt so big to me at the time), and the two steps leading into the entrance of our home was my stair set. That area in front of my home had become my favorite place in the world, and I eventually came to know it like the back of my hand. I was aware of every crack and bump in the road and saw them as extra obstacles in my little “skatepark”. Despite loving this space I had created for myself more than anything, It began to feel increasingly lonely as I grew up.

For my 10th birthday I was given my first Iphone and everything began to change. I wasted no time in downloading social media and entertainment apps such as Instagram and youtube, and it brought me extreme joy to finally be able to follow and watch my favorite skaters skate rather than imagine it through a picture. I was discovering twice as much about skate culture due to my new ability to learn about international skate scenes, and about my Idols other creative endeavours through their self promotion on social media platforms, thus inspiring me to dig deeper into different musical styles, fashion design, photography, film…etc, all while still coming to terms with the fact that I was able to access it all with a simple click of a button. This enormous wave of information had hit me like a truck and sent me straight to cloud 9, which I have since never come down from. In other words, my newly acquired access to a plethora of digital media platforms had unlocked the world for me, and anything and everything now felt possible. It bridged the gap between me and the world I had felt distanced from for so long. 

The most important thing digital media did for me is that it allowed me to find others my age who shared the same passions, and made it possible for me to connect with them online, and eventually meet them in person. Media helped me find my tribe, and figure out who I am and where I belong… and that is precisely why I love media. 

Student ID: 13811371


Published by Life in Media

Website dedicated to the Media Life/Life in Media project of Mark Deuze, Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

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