I’m so proud of you, kid. I see you managing all of this social media and digital world better than I ever could have at your age. Better than I do sometimes at my age! Keep it up. You are doing great!
But because you got stuck sharing my DNA, I wanted to share a few not-so-random thoughts with you on the subject. Thoughts that go beyond the long safety-orientated talks you have suffered through the past years.
I know, I know. Just bear with me for five minutes. Here goes.
You are growing up in a world where you are being taught that ‘sharing everything’ makes your experiences better. It doesn’t. At least not how ‘sharing’ is now defined. What makes things better is being present in the moment. Not always sharing ‘each and every’ moment.
Having a connection with people has nothing to do with being connected. I know we have heard that many times before, but I don’t think we as a society are listening. I don’t think we are walking the talk. So I think it warrants saying again. The greatest connections you will find are when you are unplugged. Don’t let people convince you otherwise. I think this may be the hardest thing for your generation to realize. It’s even hard for my generation as we look around and we all have phones stuck to our hands. And when we do realize it … the difference between connecting and being connected … it is even harder to put that phone down and put that knowledge into action.
Hiding behind a screen is easy. It’s easy in the middle of school when your friends haven’t arrived at your table yet and you are alone for those two minutes that can seem like two hours. It’s easy when you are in a place where you are uncomfortable. It’s easy when you are bored. And it’s ok to hide sometimes. It’s ok to use your screen to seem busy sometimes or to get through that awkward moment. It’s ok. SOME TIMES. But make those times few and far between kid. Choose those times. Choose them infrequently. Have the confidence in yourself to be alone sometimes. Learn to be alone. You happen to be great company!
The number of likes you have has nothing to do with your worth. That goes for when you have a lot or a little. The ego can be just as funny a thing as self esteem. Don’t let things go to your head either way. I know you know this. I just have to say it.
I am so proud you don’t have a tonne more ‘followers’ than people you are following. This shows me you are kind and inclusive and don’t see yourself as better than others. It can be rare.
Take selfies. Post them. Have fun! But please don’t post them every day all the time. Don’t ever be that self important or self centred.
Thank you for not asking for a phone or social media while you were still in single digits. Thank you even more for waiting until you were a teenager. It just made my life as a Mom much easier.
You know the people who make you laugh? Keep them. And I don’t mean the people who put smiley faces on your account. The people who you find yourself laughing outward with. In real life. In real time. Keep THEM.
Always opt for quality over quantity. Your world is not set up for this anymore. But remember that this social media platform isn’t always the real world. One real true friend outweighs the 200 on your social media account. I know that’s sometimes hard to remember. But I know it to be true from personal experience.
You know how everyone uses the acronym ‘ilysm’? You know the little hearts and ‘baes’ and I love yous that float around every day on your Instagram and Snapchat? That’s great! You have so many wonderful friends. And as a Mom I’d rather see these acronyms than insults any day. But when you step back, please know and remember that real love is much rarer than that. Even between friends. Deep down you know the friends who really care for you. Real love is felt … not typed.
Go look up the words friend and like and hangout and chat and share in the dictionary. The old fashioned Webster Dictionary. These terms are being used in a different context now. They really are. Find out where their roots come from.
Take some pictures you don’t post. Take some for the memories you will want to cherish later. Not for the showing off aspect of today.
Once you hit the send button it’s gone. Learn to type, then pause and count to ten first when you are feeling emotional about something before sending it.
Thank you for not fighting our family’s screen boundaries too much. Thank you for bringing your phone downstairs every night so it is not the first thing you reach for in the morning. Thank you for keeping the door open when you Facetime with a boy. Thank you for paying half of your own phone bill and never complaining about it. I know rules like these aren’t always the norm with your friends and I know it does affect you. I know it’s not always easy being a part of our family and our beliefs that accompany that. I do know that, and I appreciate your respect of that more than you know.
‘Be bigger than the fear of missing out’. Ok. I stole that one. But it’s important. It’s one that I’m still working on even at 43 years old in this social media world. Don’t worry about missing out on things because you aren’t on line 24/7. Be bigger than that feeling. Be stronger.
Turn off the screen. Close your eyes. Be still. Use your mind and imagination independent of the online world sometimes.
Be thankful for what this digital world offers you. It offers a lot of opportunity and potential for growth. Especially for a bright kid like you. Use it. Explore. Discover. Have fun.
Everything you type or post is public domain. Forever. Period. I know we’ve talked ad nausium about that one but it warrants a reminder.
Keep reading real books with real pages. I love that you still do this. Never stop. I love that you adore your Kobo too, but the feel of a real book in your hand – the way it opens the first time you hesitate to crease its spine – the way a bookmark lays in it – there is an appreciation there for the written word that you can’t replace on a screen. I sense you feel this too. Don’t ever lose that feeling.
Thank you thank you thank you for not having two separate social media accounts for everything. One for your ‘friends’ and another for your ‘real’ friends. I think this is awful and elitist and mean and I am proud you are not that kid. I know you are probably shocked I even know about this practice and you would probably defend them and their reasoning … but you drew the short straw in the ‘Mom with strong opinions’ department. Sorry kid.
And finally, above all, very simply, just ‘check in’ with yourself every once in a while. You are a wise, thoughtful knowledgeable kid. You know if your life is balanced in a real way. You know in your heart what is real, what matters, and what is just distraction. Listen to yourself. And then have the courage to put away the white noise for a little while until you can feel balanced again.
So that’s it kid. Thanks for listening to your old Mom.
I do happen to think you rock … in every aspect of this teenage thing! You are already living so much of this and the balance you choose to have in every part of your life makes me burst with pride.
I also recognize you have so much more insight into this online world than I do. But you know me …. I just can’t help sharing an opinion or two with my favourite girl.
xoxo Ilysm … 😘 😍😀😛Bahahahaha!!