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NextGen 2022

How young people use technology to navigate our strange new world

The 21st century is a wild time to be a young person. The old systems are crumbling, new ideas are bubbling up, and people are more restless than ever. At the center of it all is the greatest communication system the world has ever known, reflecting every frustration and desire through a maze of mirrors. Everything is falling apart — and anything is possible. 

We wanted to know firsthand what it’s like to be a young person in the present moment, so we went straight to the source. In June, we put out a call for pitches from young writers, asking for personal essays about their experiences with technology. Now, we’re ready to share what came back: 11 pieces exploring how technology is helping young people navigate our strange new world, publishing throughout the week. Whether it’s underground Discord channels or chaotic online art clubs, these communities are redefining what it means to grow up online.

We got a ton of great pitches for this and we’re hugely grateful to everyone who sent something in, even if we weren’t able to get you on the site. Don’t feel too bad, though — we’re hoping to do this again before long, so you’ll have another shot. Stay tuned!

Finding community in a hip-hop producer’s Twitch stream

David Arroyo

The joy of a calming Twitter account

Mari Kramer

The chaotic joy of Art Fight

Camille Butera

Blaseball: birthing hope through chaos

Samuel Fung

Learning to love being asexual while looking for love on Discord

Cara Giovanetti

Pirates of Khadda Market

Sarim Abbas

The speakeasy economy of WeChat

Aaron Corbett

Finding friendship and freedom on an electric skateboard

Sebastian Aniciete

How an online community took back the Legend of Zelda

Derek Hill