I was thinking the other day of some of the
stupid not so smart things I did in my youth. Sometimes I have fond memories of my youthful antics and the crazy times I had with my family and friends. There are some memories however that I would like to forget. That’s normal. In life there are times we wish we could have a do over, or a reset button. Ah that glorious reset button on my original Nintendo. You know when you got mad at the game because you messed up so you just hit that button. It unfortunately doesn’t work that way in real life. We all make mistakes in life, (Spoiler Alert!) and unfortunately it isn’t something that we outgrow. Hopefully as we age and our brains develop we befriend wisdom and make better choices. As adults we can all look back and say “what were we thinking?!” Truth is the adolescent brain isn’t fully developed. One of the last areas to fully mature is the part that has to do with reason. So when asking a teen “what were you thinking?!” they truthfully may answer “I don’t know”. This isn’t to absolve teens from responsibility. It just might explain some of our more painful choices in our own past.
I am truly thankful I wasn’t a teen in the social media age. Most of my mistakes, failures, poor choices etc were only known by a few close people in my life. Literally the people who were in physical proximity to us. Today our culture lives every single moment online. I mean you can actually see a picture of what dessert your friend is having at a swanky restaurant half way around the world. Sometimes it can be way TMI (too much information). Do we need to know every thought, action, meal, and on and on from all of our
acquaintances friends? I have actually seen pictures of peoples BM’s on social media. That’s “bowel movement”, poop. I’m not making that up. #IDon’tWantToSeeYourFeces
So here is where this all gets complicated for those of us living our lives online. Once it is posted online it is always out there. This has huge ramifications for all of us. That is why it is wise to think before you post. Being in close proximity to youth culture I have the pleasure of being connected with many teens on social media. Sometime it is great fun, other times I am shaking my head. Honestly not much shocks me anymore on social media. I have developed sort of a numbness to the insanity that is social media. This is why I am thankful I didn’t grow up in the social media age. When I had a “moment” it was just those in proximity to me that knew. Today when a teen has a moment it is plastered all over the entire world. Yes, the whole world has access to the hot mess that was posted by ourselves, or by a loving, or not so loving friend. I am truly thankful that I didn’t live moment to moment on social media. I mean lets be honest. I can’t believe some of the emotions, thoughts, and actions that I had in my teenage years. I cringe to even go there. I am thankful that there isn’t a digital archive floating around for anyone to access at anytime.
I encourage teens to really think about what they post on social media. Sometimes being an open book isn’t the wisest choice. I know of people who have lost out on jobs because of what they had posted on social media. News Flash: Employers will check your social media accounts. I wouldn’t even be surprised if colleges aren’t doing the same. I mean can you hold it against them. You can learn a whole lot about someone from what they are willing to broadcast out to the entire world. Life is difficult enough without having to deal with a online persona that has been created over years. Even as adults we should think twice before we shoot off that angry tweet, or that questionable picture, or bitter Facebook post. There is nothing wrong with being real but does it really need to be plastered all over cyberspace from now till whenever?
I’m sure some will disagree or feel that I am overreacting. However I have seen enough in the last 8 years on social media to know that there will be some regrets. I don’t think this completely trumps all of the good that can come from social media. I love the TimeHop app. It is so cool to see the good memories from years gone by in my feed. However my TimeHop experience would be totally different if it were full of negative, complaining, bitter, and questionable content. Once again think twice before you post it online. Make a choice to contribute to the collective good of social media. Decide to be real, vent, and so on with those close to you. I know, an actual face to face conversation, it’s so retro. The good news? Retro is in!
Life has taken me through some crazy places. Even the poor choices we make collectively make us who we are today. I am just glad I didn’t have social media in the height of the “what was I thinking” portion of my life. If you are an adult what do you think? Can you imagine some of the things you would have posted on social media when you were a teen that you would now regret? If you are a teen do you think you are up to the challenge to think twice? Have you noticed the trend in our culture to expose too much online? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.