Lately, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the impact that young people online can have, and are having, on the world. I've had the three words 'New Human Movement' written on a post-it note stuck on my notebook for weeks, and I can't help but feel a subtle, rising power creeping from the blogosphere and beginning to seriously change the world.
Lately, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Areeba.
And boy, oh boy, do I need to tell you about her.
I confess that I first discovered Areeba after her kindness and support for my own work. I'd always see her name pop up in comment sections or on social media, and I was always filled with joy when something I did prompted a comment from her. It's kinda become my measure of when I know I've done something good. But this isn't about me. This post is not some kind of 'reward', just to say thank you, or to get something in return.
This post is to celebrate and freak the fuck out about someone who is simply remarkable. Because after a while, I clicked on the link to her blog, and my whole world changed. She has always been my secret treasure, but it's selfish to keep her for myself, so I'm going to goddamn shout about her from the rooftops.
Areeba has a light which permeates effortlessly over space, over time. Areeba has a voice so pure and loud, without needing raise more than a whisper. Areeba curates a universe so overflowing with hope and positivity and beauty that my soul swells with pride and love whenever I wander through it.
Areeba's blog stands out far and above any webworld I've stumbled across in years. Her blog is a self-contained galaxy of teen angst and beauty, of scrawled lyrics and papercut collages, of doodles and dreaming and what it means to be a young girl who wants not to just be someone, but to do something.
"I'm Areeba. I'm a feminist. I have a last name most of the people spell wrong. I love reading and writing. I keep culture close & religion closer. I make art, I study art and I think art is very important. I sometimes do embroidery. I illustrate, design and a doodle a lot. I never rely on others for my happiness, I create it, sometimes in my head, sometimes in real life."
"I like lemonade and a good book. There are books that made me + some books that broke me into so many pieces, that's why I NEVER doubt words."
"There are too many Lorde lyrics that are stuck inside my head. Her Glory & Gore makes me want to be the leader of trash youth of the city. I might become one day, who knows."
"My plans for life include going into an art school, being a good human being and changing the meanings of being weak."
Tell me that doesn't make you feel a bit teary at how powerful that is?
AND THAT'S JUST IN HER ABOUT ME SECTION OF HER BLOG.
These are just 3 reasons why I'm obsessed with Areeba:
The first thing I noticed immediately is that she too felt the siren call of Lorde's Pure Heroine. In 2013 my entire life was revolutionised by the discovery of that album. It's almost inexplainable. The lyrics are so profound, politically-driven and spiritually-bracing but concealed within catchy hooks and melodies so they sound like 'just good songs' to people who don't have a little bit of fucking rebellion running in their bloodstream. I think it's safe to say I'm not the only one who knows every word.
Lorde gets it. Areeba gets it. This is the New Human Movement. The unapologetic artists who create things so big and powerful they can mobilise souls through airwaves and wifi connections.
Her #OhJournalEtc project. Alongside a fellow journaller, Areeba has pioneered a collaborative community art project, creating monthly prompts for other young artists to create upon the theme of, and then shares her favourites via her instagram. Areeba is connecting, empowering and supporting a burgeoning community of young artists via the internet. This girl.
The ongoing love letter she weaves for Karachi.
"I am hopelessly in love with Karachi, the city holds my heart, along with all the flaws and blood this city has on itself. The reckless & most important kid of Pakistan, Karachi it is. Shehre Yaran: the city of friend/lover/someone-you-love, as I call it because it literally it is. City of everyone & everything I love..."
One thing I've come to realise, especially since travelling to Thailand, is how afraid Westerners are of the East. It's not even an intimidation or xenophobia, but we are raised believing the east is just a battleground. That nowhere is safe except home. We hear the names Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and we instantly inwardly wince in a way we don't even know why. I've even felt those pulls myself. But this isn't just wrong, it's completely untrue.
Yes, the world is at a war that we don't know how to acknowledge because it makes us uncomfortable. But fear is making everything so much worse. There is SO much beauty in the Middle East, yet we fear it, try to avoid all mention of it. But we musn't. It's so fucking essential that we don't do that. It's up to us to change perceptions. And reading the way Areeba writes about Karachi makes me want to be nowhere else on earth. I want to go to Pakistan. I want to experience it. I want to write about it. I want to see for myself how wrong we've always had it.
The key to the future is to use the internet to break down social barriers which have been reinforced for so many years to the point where we believe that's 'just life'.
We can change it. Areeba is.
And lastly, for me as an artist, a musician, a creator, she is not only such a great inspiration but also a motivation. I want to make art because of you, but also for you. For us all. For the dreamers, y'know? For people who don't want to just accept that sometimes things are really shitty. The ones who wanna fix it.
I only want to do better, be better, because of you.
Raise your city into the sky, Areeba. I am, and always will be, right here behind you. And it's a fucking honour to know you.
Find Areeba's blog 'Not Your Type' here.
Find Areeba's blog 'Not Your Type' here.