Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Inappropriate teens & Twitter -- is this our future?

I should be working on a blog post about the GI Bill, but for the life of me, I can't focus today. One downside of working on a computer is that the Internet is one click away, which means distractions are easy to come by a la Facebook, my favorite celebrity gossip column and my number one coupon blog. Le sigh.

So instead, I'm going to write a post for this blog in hopes that it jogs my mind a bit and I can refocus on the other blog post afterward.

The other day, a friend of mine posted a link to a news article about teenagers posting inappropriate photos on a Twitter account. I wish I could say I was shocked and outraged, but this seems to be par for the course now that social media has infiltrated our lives. The author of the article actually went so far as to say the teens needed therapy because they probably have personality disorders. Narcissism is listed as an option, but I've never met a teenager that didn't think the world revolved around him/her, so I'm not sure that would be my go-to diagnosis (although, it'd probably be the easiest to prove).

The Twitter account (@LIPartyStories) has been suspended so linking to it is not worth your time, but there were some blurred photographs released by a news agency here. One of the featured photos is a teen girl wearing a birthday tiara while urinating in a sink. Others are of naked teens in backyards and then there's a girl passed out on the stairs (drugs? alcohol? both?). Before the account was shut down, there were 22,000 followers. That's a little more than trying to be the popular kid at school, right?

I've been trying to wrap my head around it, but I just can't get there. All I can think is thank God social media didn't ramp up until I was graduating from college. Can you imagine those photos haunting you forever? No thank you.

And the thing is, these kids aren't thinking about their futures. Obviously, none of them can run for office now (should we consider ourselves lucky? Probably), but what about more pressing issues like going to college or getting a job. Checking social media accounts is becoming routine and if I were an admissions officer, I'd probably pass on the girl peeing in a sink. Like we don't have enough problems with drunken college kids already.

Also, what are they hoping to gain by posting these photos? Is it a popularity thing? Is it a notoriety thing? Drinking and drugs have always been an issue at the high school level (and now middle school, which, um, scary) so why is this special? Are they bragging? Are they showing off? Is that naked guy dropping a deuce popular now? Clearly, I wouldn't make it through high school today. Or maybe it would be easier to shine because these kids are a bunch of dumbf*cks. I'm trying to cut back on the swears, but seriously, could you classify them as anything else?

So let's move on to the parents. You're a mom and you've just discovered your kid is an idiot. Who do you blame? I'd probably start with reality television.  If Kim Kardashian can make a sex tape and then end up on the cover of Vogue (WTF Anna Wintour), then obviously my kid thinks she can pee in a sink and end up with a talk show. Or could be on the Rock of Love. Or could become the next Bachelor.  My kid thinks his/her 15 minutes are coming. Are these really goals, by the way?

And after I got done blaming reality television, I'd probably blame the Internet. And the founders of Twitter. Because if there was no Twitter, my kid would have to go the old-fashioned route and send those pics via text. Obviously, this is Twitter's fault.

Then, maybe, just maybe, I'd start pointing the finger at my kid because he or she's gotta be at least 50 percent responsible for acting a fool, right? Because I taught him/her better than to act like that, didn't I?

Hmm...did I? And so the blame would go full circle and come back squarely on my shoulders where I would question every parenting decision I ever made. The thing is, we all do the best we can and by the time our kids are teenagers, they have minds of their own. So as long as I taught him/her to be an upstanding citizen with morals and a healthy sense of right and wrong, should I be blamed? Not entirely.

Let's go ahead and up the kid's blame to 85 percent with 10 percent on me because I obviously need to keep better tabs on him/her and 5 percent resting on the Kardashians (because what don't they screw up?).

Anyway, if that was my kid he'd be in a world of hurt. I'm talking completely cut off from all social media, forced community service, no privacy (oh I'm reading those emails) for at least a month. And then we'd reevaluate because I couldn't keep him in a box forever. He does have to function as an independent adult at some point. Would I put him in therapy? Probably not. Unless I thought he was depressive or had something else going on. But if that was the case, I hope I'd notice before it got to the point that he posed naked on someone's lawn and then showed it to 22,000 people.

All that being said, I really feel for the families dealing with this. I'm sure it's not easy and there's probably not a ton of research on it either because social media is still relatively new. Maybe someone should write a book about this - how to bounce back when your kid posts inappropriate pictures online: a true story as told by the mother of a future president generic worker.


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