There’s a social media post going around that basically asks, “Aren’t you glad that you got all your youthful indiscretions over before the advent of cell phones and everything you do being posted online?” And everyone over the age of 30 shouts, “Yes, yes, and yes!”
Can you imagine what it’s like to have every moment of your life out there for the world to see? In the beginning, it’s the parents posting baby pictures, birthdays, first day of school, and soccer games. But once that first cell phone falls into those hot, little preteen hands, watch out, world.
Every thought, every spat, every crush is now in the public domain. These kids have no filters, no sense of privacy at all. They put their bodies out there for public display, and their dislike of teachers, their parents, their bosses are all considered fair game. There’s no sense of the future or any kind of consequences for sharing their soul with a world that gobbles this stuff up, and then ruthlessly spits these kids out.
There have been studies that conclude that the brain doesn’t fully mature until the age of 25. Or older. So back in high school, you might have done a few things that you kept from your parents. Just saying. And kept these indiscretions from everyone else except for your very best friends in the world.Who were sworn to secrecy on pain of a terrible, horrible death. You might have done stupid things, but they remained your deep, dark secrets. On the whole, you transitioned into adulthood with the follies of your youth largely safely behind you.
You might have had serious high school crushes. Again, shared only with your BFFs. And certainly not with the object of your desire. In fact, it was beyond horrifying to think anyone would know about the guy who you spent every moment of your day longing for. How embarrassing to let the world in on your private thoughts!
Fast forward to today’s kids. How horrifying it would be for them if no one cared about those once-private, personal longings. Now, every minute of their lives must be shared with the world in order to validate their existence. A perfect example is the constant taking of selfies. Does anyone else feel that this is the new form of falling in love with yourself by staring into your reflection in the water?
Some of this online sharing is fun, and not only for kids. Posting your own parodies of popular songs has become a thing. Or cute things babies or animals do. I am getting a bit concerned about the new wave of marriage proposals, however. What was once a sweet and private moment has now become a case of one-upmanship, with videos, crowds, singing and dancing as part of the package. As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the poor guy when he pops the question! It’s now got to be worthy of a Broadway production, or he’ll be considered a failure.
There is no assumption of the right to privacy anymore. Kids eagerly share their lives with not only their friends, but perfect strangers. The more the merrier. And then the day comes that they want to go to college. Or apply for a job. And they have no idea why they’re turned down. Posting pictures of every meal you’ve ever eaten is one thing. And seriously, how many meals have you eaten that are actually worthy of that kind of publicity? But putting thoughts or pictures out there that never go away, that can adversely affect your future, is not innocent fun. This generation has never really known the concept of anonymity. But the Internet is forever. Nothing really goes away. And it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Or take a picture of it.
Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved