There is at least once a week where I take a moment to give thanks that social media did not exist when I was in high school or college. I wasn’t a bad kid (well at least not a terrible kid), but I was no saint. I was young and impulsive and, at times, full of my own convictions and beliefs which I would have had no problem sharing with the world. I can just picture myself sitting back waiting for the adoration to roll in about how profound and insightful I was. Gah – I was a dork. So… there are many reasons why I am glad my teens and 20s existed in a social media free zone.
- Embarrassing pictures. No employer I have or will ever work for has been able to search tragically embarrassing photos of me on the internet. There are pictures out there, but they are not digital and, fortunately, the friends who are in possession of them are now mature enough to recognize posting them would be traumatic and hurtful. There is also the fact it would be a mutually destructive act as I have just as many photos of them. 😉
- Bullying sucked when I was a kid. I was lucky and survived relatively unscathed, but the bullies of my era had to know you personally and say it to your face. It was still terrible for those who experienced it, but it did not approach the scale of nameless, faceless people attacking you by the thousands. There is such a cowardice to online bullying and so many are never able to identify or confront their attackers.
- The public forum of your life. People know who is dating or breaking up or where they are going and with whom. There is no privacy in the world of social media. Teens typically lack the impulse control not to “overshare” and, therefore, everyone knows everything about everybody.
- Social media becomes a popularity contest, but it is an artificial one. The battle can be who has the most friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter or Instagram as if this means there is a genuine relationship. We know this is artificial and, unfortunately, it can turn people away from real relationships with flesh and blood people.
- Peer pressure is hard enough to overcome face-to-face. Now pressure can come from multitudes who are not always acting with your best interest at heart.
Look, even without social media during my teens and 20s, I still have no chance to run for President of the United States. There are enough skeletons in my closet and I have friends who know too much, but at least it is not easily accessible though an internet search. I am happy social media became a presence in my life once I had already learned some restraint and became aware of the value of my name and “reputation”. I wonder how that is going to work for today’s teens and young adults as they have already put too much online and there is no way of taking it back. Will it matter or will it become a moot point since they will be on an even playing field with all of their other classmates?