Lately I’ve realized the internet and technology has really brought to light how small the world is. I used to travel with family and run into someone my mom knows a thousand miles from home and think “you know EVERYONE don’t you??”. Fast forward to the present day and I can surf facebook to notice a friend who has a mutual friend and ask “oh wow how do you know so-n-so?”. I wish there was more mystery in this world filled with instant gratification. As it turns out, my generation is likely the last to actually wish for less information, less contact, more patience, and more down time.
Only recently did I realize what social media must do to teenagers. I realized there’s absolutely no escape from the world that confuses them. When I was a kid, if I had a rough day at school…I got to go home. I had to make an effort to talk to my friends or hang with them. Or I could just sit alone at home, or with my family, or do chores or homework. Now if a kid has a bad day they can go home and surf the internet to see all the other bad things in the world and either fill their mind with stuff that doesn’t directly involve them, or possibly take a gander at their facebook and realize someone is “vaguebooking” about them outside of school too. They can see their best friend “liking” their ex’s posts and wonder why they are internet buddies (which is just as bad as being an actual friend in the mind of a teen). They can pinterest ideas for their school project too, sure, but they also cannot escape the world that consumes them.
I was never a very “cool kid”, but I had a lot of friends. I didn’t play sports but dabbled in cheer and dance team. I didn’t excel at anything that involved fitness or hand eye coordination. (This is still true — I just bought a hacky sack and it turns out that actually takes skill)!!! But I was always very good at wearing my heart on my sleeve and empathizing or sympathizing with just about anyone. I cared WAY too much as far as a teenager is concerned, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. I lost my virginity to a guy I thought loved me, and also slept with a guy my best friend liked. I experimented with drugs and alcohol and I lived to tell the tale. I think back on a lot of these moments I lovingly refer to as “the bad ol days” and think — Social Media would have ruined me back then. Because I care so much, because I’ve always wanted to people please, I would have been miserable. My god, the day after I lost my virginity my 15 year old self would have shamefully posted my heartbreak all over the internet for the world to read — He said he loved me and he dumped me the next day! Insert crying sobbing sad emojis here. Yep, that happened to me, the ignorant fool. After a while I learned it was okay, it turned out for the best, and I absolutely adore this person that broke my heart a hundred years ago. I think very fondly of him, and if I saw him today, I would hug him and hope that he is doing well. I don’t regret it, but I would have regretted telling the tale to more than a few close friends. Look at me now, sharing the story…but that was 20 years ago…and it doesn’t have the same effect on me as it would have that day my heart was torn into pieces.
I also remember how excited I was when I started my period. My mom tells the tale of going to get the worlds largest box of pads and me carrying them proudly into the house. I was the last of my friends to dive into “womanhood” and if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been so thrilled. Being a female is SURE glamorous isn’t it? Would I have posted a picture with some catchy line like “I can’t wait to bleed and feel like I’m dying once a month”….probably not, but it’s just another one of life’s strange curve balls I possibly wouldn’t have kept quiet.
Would I have posted photos at the many parties just taunting the cops who would later shut us down? Would I have shared my first car accident just hoping for people I hardly knew to ask me if I’m okay because all I wanted was attention? Would I have posted about the time Rylan and I got caught with beer in his car and the cops came and made him dump the entire 12 pack out in my parents lawn? Would social media have turned me into someone I wouldn’t want to be? Would it have shown me a side of people I wouldn’t want to see? Would I have been bullied more than I was, or would anyone I cared about taken their own lives in their own hands because the next bully wouldn’t let them escape their torment?
I’d like to think I wouldn’t do any of these things, but believe me…I’ve SEEN IT ALL in the teens I do see on ‘the book’. I’ve seen their rage against their parents, their stories of their adolescent sex life, their weird kissing photos, and awkward friend pics (some of which make me shake my head and think…I’m pretty sure you have vented to your mother about this girl, but whatever kiddo). I’ve seen the coward behind the keyboard spewing their hate to the next guy or gal that they are jealous of. I’ve seen the effect it has had on these children as well. I’m glad I can keep up with everyone and their lives, but sometimes – this empathetic girl – wishes she knew a little less. Sure, I could just put it down and ignore it but damnit, it’s there…the whole world and all the information I don’t care to know is RIGHT THERE for my wandering eyes.
I never thought I was competitive till a few years ago — and if I’m being honest, social media is just one big fat contest to about 90 percent of the users. Maybe this will ring a bell: Look what I did, look at my cute outfit, look at my new car, look at my new house, look I’m at the gym getting fit at 3am, look what I got for Christmas, look at my bullshit life and marriage and all these lies I’m telling you because for some reason down the road of life I started to really care about how people perceive me and my life, when really I should just take that energy and focus on my child who is failing elementary school because of my poor choices to have a kid with their heroin addicted drunk father who hardly sees them anymore. LOOK I now have this new person in my life and it’s really exciting but they sure don’t find my child very interesting — lucky for me my kid is stuck with me so as long as I put all this effort into this relationship my kid will still be there in a few years when my second marriage fails and they will forgive me because they have to…so for now…let me impress the UNIVERSE with the most fake bullshit story I can come up with because THAT SHIT MATTERS. Ugh, sorry, rant over. I’ve seen it all.
With all this that I’ve seen, I find myself bogged down in the tiny world we live in. I’m face down in the succubus of vaguebooking life stories and truly came to a point where I could care less. I don’t even scroll much through my feed anymore. You know what I do care about…me. My family, my well being and my nieces and nephews. I care about my marriage flourishing and my husband being happy. I care about the solid relationship I have with my parents and my granny and my brother and so on. I care about my healthy lifestyle and motivating people I love to have the drive to live as long as we can. I care about making people laugh because laughing IS LIFE’S WATER and having a great day every day. I care about you if you’re reading this, and I care about real life in real time. I care about writing letters on real paper and sending them to my best friend, and I care about watching people I love accomplish greatness. I care about traveling to places I’ve never seen and smelling fresh air. I care about clean drinkable water and recycling. I care about my pursuit of happiness being my story, not someone else’s. I care more than I need to, but these are the things I’ve always loved about myself. Being someone who does care about realness.
I hope you read this and understand my words. I’m not ashamed of my past, but I am superbly thankful for all those memories being things I can share when I’m good and ready and mentally stable enough to hear the jokes coming my way.
Live, love, laugh and don’t be a bully — and mostly, worry about your damn self because you are the only person you have to live with forever.
Till next time — stay beautiful.