Reflections on a digital childhood
A number of months have gone by since I last wrote in this blog. During this time, I’ve been documenting and thinking. Creativity is a slow process with me.
In December 2019, I started a new series of films in which participants from the project, who are now in their late teens, look back and reflect on their experiences of a digital childhood. Shot on mobile phones and scripted by each protagonist, the films explore themes that resonate with each of these young adults as they leave childhood and look to their future.
The films are simple: a voice, a place, a reflection. We take time to develop all three aspects of each film. We film in locations that are meaningful and important to each person. We slowly develop a short script in conversation with each other – sometimes writing it down and sometimes just recording as we go. I guide and offer feedback along the way.
I think of these films as small poems: a kind of gateway into the Friends Like Me project and into the material, collected over years, in which children and teens patiently sat in front of my camera and spoke to me candidly about their experiences growing up online. I love that we can first meet participants on the homepage already as young adults and then encounter their younger selves (and younger peers), if we explore the growing archive of interviews within the website. This sense of revisiting conversations over time, builds a collective, longitudinal, story that gently releases me from the idea that a child is a singular, fragile, incomplete unit of humanity. And that is a thought that sits at the heart of this evolving project.
And so here is our first film of this series: Jamal reflects on the role Instagram has had in his life. Very fittingly he tells me:
“The people I follow on Instagram have taught me about the world and helped me to imagine my future.”
Watch the video here or on our new homepage.