What My Teenager Taught Me About Social Media, Acceptance, and other Stupid Stuff



My daughter is a co-conspirator. She has become my raison d'être in writing out what I need to write, addressing what I've had rattling in my grey matter for some time. It is due in no small part to a mother's love and want for understanding what she's 'going through'.

Social media was around before she could make her way around a keyboard, click a mouse, and post innocuous comments. I introduced her to my world of social media when I went back to college. Showed her a site that some kid created to link up other college students. I was using it to keep in contact with all my younger, hipper counterparts. When she was old enough to begin socializing on the net, I assisted her with an account. Now, the tables have not completely turned, but we are linked, site by site, arm in arm with each other as we navigate what is out there in the Brave-Not-So-New www. 

A car ride to the store just the other night is what reminded me that although I may have endured some of the growing pains that my girl has/will face, I have certainly never had to confront some of these 'rites of passage' in such a public way as most of our kids do now. Oh, for those parents that say 'my kid doesn't engage in social media'... that's great.  THEY might not, however their reputation, comments, and likeness do, no matter what, thanks to the 'classmates' and 'friends'.

I have not felt the slings and arrows of being un-friended at 15 by my 'bff' who just posted that deep, dark secret she swore to NEVER tell. Telling of tales, of those horrors we want to keep buried (exept to our buddies). Those things 20 or 30 years ago would take a whole school year to make it to 50 people, now only take a nano-second to get to 1,000.

The InstaGrammed weekend 'doings' of those friends, while sitting home waiting for them to call and get an invite, didn't happen to me.  I didn't know, nor did I care, as it was after the fact.

Flaming was something that happened when you walked too close to the bonfire set up at the keg party in the woods.

My girl and I talk, alot. She and I agreed that I am not the uber 'sheltering' type of parent, out there fighting teachers for the A+, calling other parents and asking them 'Do you know what your child said to mine?', or telling her she can't watch an R rated show because it contains the same profanity that she hears already on the bus or in school. I'm a rebel like that. When those 'sticky issues' rear their ugly head (because they will), we talk about it. Discuss the context of everything said and done, review what we think about it, how it makes us both feel. Earnest discussion, deep moments.

On that ride, she imparted to me that most of her friends consider her the 'go to' when there are daunting 14/15 year old issues at hand. They turn to her to vent, ask for guidance. My girl's inevitable young wisdom is imparted, and, like most parents or trusted adults, goes unheeded many times. She tells me that a vast majority of her friends 'have no clue'. Wise beyond her years, she has had the opportunity to bounce off ideas, thoughts, and feelings. She's gotten her share of 'real life' from her folks. She's debating on whether or not she'd want to be a psychologist, weighing out the fact that listening to other's troubles on a daily basis might be a drain to her aura of self.

I have to acknowledge that as often as we talk, as much time as we do spend with each other, there are things that my girl will face that I will never be able to completely understand or feel. She is sailing on her own, with me as the 'radio', into unchartered territory.

As I turned our car into our neighborhood, I realized something ~ Pierce the Veil tickets were still on sale ~ my girl had hmu on fb about it.