This Is What Social Media (And The Selfie Generation) Did To My Teenage Daughter
I want to say the duckface picture days are behind us, but I’m not sure if that’s a safe statement yet. We still have the mouth wide open, peace sign pics, but I haven’t seen a duckface pic in a while so I’m hopeful.
I’m not one for selfies. They actually freak me out, and when I see my teenager take 75 selfies during the three-minute ride to church, I completely lose my cool. She says she has to get it just perfect. She once tried to get me in one of her selfies, so I shot the camera the bird in an effort to make it unsendable (I know, I know, there’s no need for chastising comments). It ended up being sent anyway, and now she’s the kid whose mom flipped off the camera.
Snapchat is nonstop in our house. We have two teenagers that use Snapchat 26 hours a day.
What’s wrong with these kids?
How did we raise a generation of selfie-taking teens who are constantly sending their friends pictures of themselves. I told my daughter to send something else instead of a selfie to her friends on Snapchat, and she looked at me like I had two heads. “Like what? What else would I send?”
I was speechless.
Last week, one of our teens missed a week of school and ended up in the ER because she was so sick. I have no doubt that on Monday morning, when her friends realized she wasn’t at school, they started Snapchatting. I’m pretty sure they all got a selfie of my sick child with puffy eyes and pale face.
Oh my God, make it stop.
But then something strange started happening.
The first day she was home sick the doorbell rang mid-afternoon, and it was one of her selfie-taking friends with a milkshake for my daughter. She knew my daughter couldn’t eat because her throat was so sore, so she brought her a milkshake. She drove to Sonic and spent her own money on a milkshake for my daughter. Even if it seems like the smallest act of kindness, it’s kind of huge in the teen world.
The next day, the doorbell rang, and it was the delivery guy from Panera Bread. Her “Oh my gosh, Mom, stop calling him my boyfriend, you’re so embarrassing” called in an order for her and had it delivered to our house. For real, this sweet young man placed a lunch order for my daughter and had it sent to our house. What? Who does that? I’m sure she Snapchatted him a thank-you. I called my husband to tell him he needed to step up his game because this kid just schooled him!
The following day the doorbell rang again, and when I opened the door, there stood a pizza delivery guy. Her BFF (who doesn’t even live in our city) called in a pizza and had it delivered to my daughter. He handed me a personal pizza, fries, and a drink, and let me know that everything down to the gratuity was covered.
I called her mom later on in the day to tell her thank you, and her mom had no idea that her daughter had sent mine lunch. There was no glory in it for her friend; she was simply and silently being kind.
The next day we landed in the ER, and as she lay in the hospital bed, I watched her phone go off nonstop with friends checking on her. I also watched her Snapchat pictures of her IV, monitor, socks, and whatever else was in that room.
On the last day of the week, her “oh my gosh, Mom, stop calling him my boyfriend, you’re so embarrassing” and her best guy friend showed up to our house during their lunch hour with hamburgers from our favorite fast food joint. The three of them sat outside and had lunch together. They kept her company and gave her several reasons to smile after a long and isolated week.
These kids proved me wrong over and over all week long. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Maybe all this technology, Snapchatting, texting, and selfies isn’t making them all crazy, self-centered bullies. It’s giving them access to each other in ways that we didn’t have growing up, and maybe that’s not always a bad thing. I know that sometimes social media is abused and used in hateful ways, but I’ve learned this week that sometimes it’s used in the sweetest, most generous ways.
When I was growing up and a friend missed a week of school due to illness, we really didn’t do much about it. We might have called them from our Swatch phone after dinner to see if they were okay, and if we were really cool, we added a friend to the conversation by using three-way calling. But other than that we kind of just let their parents handle it and waited for them to return to school.
The instant access these kids had to each other over the week gave them the ability to show compassion to my daughter in ways we couldn’t when we were their age. It gave them ways to love on her while she was home sick. It gave them the ability to show her that they cared and that she was not only loved, but she was missed. I want to call each one of their parents and tell them “thank you” and “well done.”
We don’t give this generation enough credit. These are good kids doing their best to navigate a world that has instant access to everything and every event the moment it happens. Their lives are being played out through social media in real time right in front of all of our faces. Teenaging is hard stuff right now, but they’re actually doing a pretty good job at making it work for them.
If you have little ones and are terrified of the teen years, please let me tell you that the best is yet to come. These kids are the coolest, and even through their struggle in trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in, they can be surprisingly awesome. It’s so amazing watching these kids grow into compassionate and generous young adults, even if we have to see most of it via Snapchat.
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