Almost Famous has been my favorite movie since the fifth grade. Sitting on the living room floor at my friend Whitney's house, I fell in love with Penny Lane's carefree spirit, vintage crop tops, and the way she made a trip to the record store feel like the ultimate adventure. I fell in love with the soundtrack, how the film celebrates fangirls, and, of course, that magical moment when the band, Stillwater, sings "Tiny Dancer" in unison on the tour bus. But most of all, I loved how Almost Famous was about a teenage rock journalist who proved that there are no age limits when it comes to storytelling.
Today, you don’t need a reporter’s notepad or a handheld recorder to tell a story. Thanks to the Internet, you can tweet it in 140 characters or less. Create a Tumblr. Make a video and upload it to YouTube. Take Snaps and add them to your story, documenting your entire day. Not only can you instantaneously share your thoughts, questions, and obsessions with others, you can also share a community.
The different communities I've watched evolve over the years on the Internet are something I wish I had back in high school when I was freaking out about getting accepted into college and feeling anxious about the big, scary *~FuTuRe~*. As someone who has since graduated from high school and college and then moved to New York, I've found that while much has changed, there are a lot of things that haven't — like moving to big cities (or maybe small towns), dating, starting new jobs, or making friends. Whether you're a teen, college student, twentysomething, or somewhere in between, we're all in this weird growing-up, still-figuring-it-out phase of life. We're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.
But we don't have to be.
In 2012, Marina Keegan, the author of The Opposite of Loneliness, was killed in a car accident. She was 22. She had graduated from Yale five days earlier. Her last column, which she wrote for The Yale Daily News and which later went viral, included this quote:
"We don't have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that's what I want in life. What I'm grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I'm scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.
It's not quite love and it's not quite community; it's just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team."
When I think of Marina’s words, I think about the incredibly powerful, supportive, and authentic relationships I’ve seen manifest firsthand on the Internet. These connections aren’t lightbulbs that you switch off once you’re at school and then switch back on when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed before you go to sleep. Contrary to what many parents, “experts,” and non-digital natives believe, the narrative is no longer “online life” versus “real life" — it’s just life. And that’s what I hope MTV Voices — our new contributor platform where personal stories can be amplified and meaningful conversations can be shared — captures.
From dating to college culture to the upcoming election, MTV Voices wants to hear your thoughts on what it’s like to be young in 2016 -- whether you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom, your campus library, or maybe even your first apartment. It’s talking about what you love, what you care about most, what pisses you off, about your fears, and, as one 19-year-old Facebook employee brilliantly puts it, your “imperfect stories.” It's ditching the buzzy "millennial" or "Gen-Y" or "teen" labels and instead boiling things down to two simple requirements: You are young and you have a voice.
Kicking off our Voices launch, check out Connor Franta’s thoughts on why social media is art, Jazz Jennings’s struggles with body image, five albums you definitely shouldn’t forget this year (according to ya boy Anthony), and more.
In Almost Famous, Stillwater’s lead singer tells 15-year-old William Miller in his Rolling Stone interview, “Rock and roll can save the world.” He's right — and young storytellers can, too.
Want to be an MTV Voices contributor? Send your full name, age, and pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.