ADDRESS: zine essays

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

Created by Nora Furlong and Risa Sundu, ADDRESS is a zine dedicated to the analysis and celebration of adolescence. Contact Nora Furlong if you would like a hard copy including photographs.

This consists of an analysis of the relationship between contemporary youth and parties, several interviews with teenage peers, and a collection of photographs for our more illiterate buyers. Unfortunately, since we ourselves are teens, we are unable to directly gather a wider range of primary sources (teenagers' stories and opinions) from across the country and world. So we chose to focus on young people in the Bay Area, which provides a racially and socially diverse, although politically similar, array of kids to hear from. Hopefully, this provides just a peek into what it’s like in this day and age so as to not let the adults in on all our fun. Some things are better left within the age group. Enough introduction. This is Address.  How can I introduce this topic without pulling lines from the cliche openings of a myriad of writers and professors? The fact that technology has affected how young people interact with each other and the world is old news. It seems that everyone has taken a crack at discussing this subject, perhaps hoping to educate “these crazy kids." And while these articles and books offer compelling psychological data and reasons for teens' behavior, there is often a feeling of scrutiny and chastisement hovering over the entire writing. Yes, one must pay attention and pick apart the practices of a generation in order to try to understand them but why are adults always the ones to do this? This was frustrating me till I realized that this condemnation of teens is not a new activity accompanying the rise of technology. Adults have been complaining about and blaming young people for centuries, while the kids supposedly just spin off in endless cycles of angst. The implementation of the internet in our society gives both teens and adults an entire platform to complain about each other, but it is most often the case that the older generation actually publishes articles and books with their grievances.  I wish that teenagers would write and share their experiences with technology and parties, and try to truly analyze these issues. While adults feverishly do this, the deepest analysis that teenagers often reach is “life is crazy, man." But that is beside the point. It is not our responsibility to study ourselves, but it could benefit us as a generation to try to understand our objectives. The purpose of this writing is to share our stories if only to have them be told. What we want to explore with this zine is to what extent does technology influence modern party culture and how it affects teenagers. 

The customary first exposure to party culture is a scene in countless homogenous teen movies. The protagonist shyly steps through the door, tucking their hair behind their ear. They see -- shocker -- teens playing beer pong and playing loud music. These two actions are staples of every movie's portrayal of parties and are expected attributes. Watching these scenes implants an expectation of teen life in young people, an expectation that parties will follow a certain blueprint. This supposition of huge, unruly gatherings seldom come to fruition, at least in Berkeley. Obviously, parties rarely unfold like High School Musical, more often occurring like Palo Alto or Kids. But one must remember that although loud music and beer are still very apparent, this is a new generation, with invasive technology now easily accessible. Social media apps, like Instagram and Snapchat, provide teenagers with a huge network of their peers to interact with. Contrary to the rantings of many adults, social media has not made human contact obsolete, it has instead altered it so that you can have contact with any persona on the platform. On a daily basis, kids can watch each other exist in their version of the world, which can include an almost religious documentation of parties. Now instead of party legends being passed through the community the Monday after a rager, there is live proof that Devin fainted off the balcony last weekend. The newly established staple of modern party culture is the familiar flash of phones filming kids stumbling around to Get Stupid and the immediate posting of these videos and pictures. It has almost become a necessity to “immortalize” these moments; I use quotations because of the expiration date on Snapchats. Studying this cycle specific to Snapchat can remind one of a kind of ceremonial indulging and cleansing. Instead of stacking up with the risk of appearing repetitive, each post is new and exciting, at least to the user. Teenagers are using these apps to cement their position in the social climate, with these pictures and videos as evidence, an undeniable “I was there.” No need to brag at school the next week, everyone who follows you knows and has acknowledged your presence there by viewing your report. With these posts, there is no dispute of whether you are liked and admired, invited the more appropriate word, which are age-old worries of humans at any age. 

This frantic declaration can be recognized in a multitude of social gatherings, an explanation of why people post something every time they’re with their friends. It’s a statement of companionship, but also a reminder that they aren’t alone, that they are posting, you are the one watching. Just as parties result in teens acting as enhanced versions of themselves, they also result in regular practices being enhanced. Therefore it would only make sense that a function is an orgy of posing and videotaping since being at a party is prime product for social media. Within this time period, a considerable part of a party’s existence is the promise of a well-received post. Therefore, the most significant difference in our generation's party culture is the standardized and pandemic publication of our actions. I leave you now with wise words posted by almost every teenager the night of a party: “Swipe up for addy.”  

I don't want to give the impression I am vilifying teenagers for the completely normal things we do like drinking, vaping, smoking. I do feel a need to talk and write about it though, maybe not as an explanation, but more as a version of documentation to what my formative years consisted of, specifically the role drugs played. Kids attempt to stray from tradition in almost every aspect of life except drug use, it seems. They’ll scream and shout that they’re nothing like their parents, then turn and smoke with their dad’s pipe from the ’70s because “it looks sick.” Parents and adults often try to omit their own hazy experiences in fear their teens will take that as permission to experiment, a kind of “you did it, so I can too.” They avoid telling their kids stories of their own late nights, worried it will come off the wrong way. Don’t worry, mom and dad, we’re going to smoke and drink no matter what you tell us. But as of late, there’s a new stimulant our parents never had, or at least not in this format. It’s something parents, adults and even scientists don’t understand: vaping. My, and many others, introduction to vapes began in middle school and I can practically chart the rise and fall of trends associated with these objects. If the 2000s consisted of little dogs in purses, the 2010s will be remembered for vapes customizable with sparkly stickers and filled with lychee juice. Called the new delivery system for nicotine, vapes play an understated, yet crucial part in the atmosphere of a party.

They are extremely convenient since they can be used inside and this accessibility only adds to their allure. They often act as the background activity, with weed and alcohol still holding center stage. Yet they are just as relevant and apparent at any party now, often performing as a bond between new friends or as a not-so-subtle way to talk to your crush. Even with this added role of conversation piece, vapes are seen and used as an individual activity by many of our peers. Users consider vaping an autonomous act, whether they are at a party or not. But what is so curious about that statement is the community and expectations that coincide with owning a vape directly contrast the supposedly independent aspect that many people describe. Owning a vaporizer acts as an automatic pass into a kind of subdivision that is made up of a variety of teenagers. Affinity with this group of kids can include frequent trips to Sunshine for juice or ongoing debates as to whose device hits the hardest. In essentially every social situation, to own a suorin or juul is widely seen as an invitation to ask for a hit. This can be clearly recognized at parties, where people can be observed huddling in the corner, in animal-like packs, passing their smoks around. From these observations, it is now understood that although vaping started as a trend, it has successfully and insidiously integrated itself into our party culture, becoming an accepted part of the social landscape for a teenager. They are unavoidable and normalized, having become typical in our routines. Plus, you can do tricks. What more could a teenager want? 

At parties, I typically sit and watch the interactions between guests, trying to calculate how meaningful they are, how much of an impact they will have, perhaps as a way to insert myself into relationships I am not connected to. Even by writing this I am attempting to quantify something that is unquantifiable: human contact. Typical teenagers communicate with each other every day, whether it’s through human or media connection. Yet parties are an unparalleled situation in that many kids communicate with each other as what they feel is their true selves. A party is often the only environment where some teens can shed their anxiety and dance, generally with the help of alcohol. What I want to accomplish by sharing this analysis and the interviews that follow is to cement the fact that teenagers can talk and write about everything adults can. We have the capacity to contemplate and comprehend our role in society, just as we have the capacity to get shitfaced at a friend's house. This generation’s relationship with partying is unique and unfamiliar to those who cannot directly experience it. 

Adolescence is already a tumultuous time period, but one could argue that now it is even more so because of the intense presence of social media and tech. However, there are beneficial aspects of technology when related to party culture, like the harm prevented by using Uber and Lyft. Hopefully, we can use these modern differences to our advantage and utilize a similarly contemporary approach when presented with scrutiny or difficulties. Or, we can just have fun. Whatever your choices, remember them, write them down, keep them in your brain. Your memories are incredibly important as they are the primary sources for what life was like during this time. Thanks for reading. Power to the kids. 

39 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All