In the words of Vampire Weekend….

So I have never met either of my sets of grandparents, but apparently one was a MAJOR ginger (thank you, recessive gene!) and also quite tall because I didn’t inherit these traits from my lovely petite brunette mother nor my averagely tall blonde father.

The south park episode I identified with the most…

I bet if I met whatever one passed that along, physical characteristics would not be the only thing we shared. I bet that whatever elder Yeager I met would be as big of a technophobe as I am.

I say this with a hint of hypocrisy, as I just bought a pretty little iPhone 4 and have had a blasty watching time-lapse videos of yosemite set to an M83 soundtrack six times in a row while I’m on the stairstepper…for example.

I love that I can download a little app that puts cool filters on my not-very-cool-without-them pictures. I love that my favorite website in the world, Listography.com, has a little app too. So now, as noted, I can look at time-lapse videos of stars over canyons and take cool pictures and make list after list after list, all while sitting at work or in a friend car or at school….. ah, to use my phone at school.

I, like countless other students, enjoy whiling away the hours poking around on my phone while I should be paying attention to the class that is costing me thousands. But I don’t, and if I don’t monitor myself then I spend a ton of time looking at different sites.

I know middle schoolers and high schoolers are, too. Conrad Ball in Loveland just gave every single child an iPad. they are encouraged to get onto social networks for school like edomodo, but they mostly spend their time playing minesweeper or looking at instagram. which is gonna lead me to my next point….

One of my favorite little kiddos in the class I’m pre students teaching in at Conrad, Hanna, was showing me a ton of pictures on insta that she thought were totally cool. It was mostly of another little girl about her age, drawings that this girl had done and things around her house and stuff like that. I figured this was probably one of Hanna’s friends from an old school (she’s moved a lot), so when I asked her who she was I was completely shocked when she matter of factly told me that she didn’t know her.

How I felt when she told me that

HOLD UP. We just spend a whollllle good while of time, looking at the life of a girl that she didn’t even know? Hanna then said that she thinks she looks super interesting and cool and wishes she was as good of a drawer as she was and that she wishes that her hair was as long as hers and she is jealous of her clothing.

……..This is EXACTLY why I have a problem with introducing kids to technology so early. I hate to sound like a grandma, but back in my day, middle school was hard enough without all the stupid social posturing that happens. I was uncool in middle school, and that was before being into stuff that was uncool was synonomous for being a hipster so I didn’t even have that as a cover. Then came high school, and myspace, and eventually facebook, a sticky web that I was trapped in for a very long time.

I thought it was oh so important to take pictures of everything, and be tagged everywhere I went, and come up with funny statuses, and go facebook creeping the shit out of people. and it continued that way until this summer, when a long term boyfriend and I broke up and he decided his best course of action was to prove via picture after awful picture that he was doing just fine without me. so in a fit of frustration from seeing countless pictures of drunk him macking on drunker girls, I had one of my coworkers change my password and then deactivate it.

and, lo and behold, the pressure I felt to make my life seem as cool as possible via facebook was lifted! no need to have cool cover photos! no need to be tagged in things! no need to ‘like’ bands so some stranger would know my music taste! (bon iver, brand new, jack’s mannequin, bright eyes, lydia and mumford, in case you were wondering. i guess i still had to plug these great bands somehow…)

i remember one time i went out to drinks with a friend and she spend the whole time on her phone, checking in on other peoples lives. then i got home to find that i was tagged at fuzzys with the other girls i was with, in a status that said “love these ladies!! soo fun being with my girls!!!” UHHHH….? I didn’t really even consider her there, she spent enough time on pinterest that I was about to tell her that she should make a virtual mexican resteraunt on it and hang out there instead.

i feel like facebook is set up to make you want to make your life look as cool as possible. and i think instagram definitely leans in the same direction. twitter is a surprising exception, because tweets like “oh my gosh so many people at my house right now! #yolo #shots #mesopopular” are the exception rather than the rule. and i think there is a great danger in high schoolers but especially impressionable middle schoolers thinking that all this awful social posturing is somehow necessary.
study after study after study have shown that facebook can actually be HUGELY detrimental on self esteem. and so is it really a good idea for kids like Hanna, who are in the time when you are figuring out things like the strange social strata of middle school, and who you are as a person, and what your stance is in the world… is it really a good time for them to have to feel like they have to put up great pictures and statuses and get ‘like’s on things? i am so, so worried on how all this social posturing is going to effect the next generation. i already see a slew of issues with mine; how is the next line of people down the row going to fare?

i don’t know if this is an issue that mostly effects girls; i just think that we sometimes let so much unfiltered crap into our lives.  I could go on and on and on about why i think social posturing is scary, but i won’t. what i do think about is…is there a solution? what do we do about the fact that 12 year olds want facebooks?

i liken this to the introduction of more massive portions in the fast food world– people mindlessly consumed supersized sandwiches, thinking that someone would be regulating it if it was unhealthy, and we find ourselves 30 years later with more diabetes, obesity, coronary disease and a slew of other problems than we have ever seen before.

like this. what??! why??? why does this exist???

what if ten years from now, the amount of incidences of social outcasting, cyber bullying and  peer pressure skyrocket, matched only with the amount of adolescents with low self esteem, eating disorders, and negative self image?

back in my grandparents day, they didn’t text each other when they wanted to pursue a relationship…. they had to actually put in effort and the idea of holding a relationship almost entirely over texting and facebook messaging would have seemed ludicris.they didn’t clog their arteries with hamburgers wrapped in slices of pizza (okay, i’m making that up that that exists. but it could….). and they sure didn’t have to worry if other kids in their class “like”d their recent thoughts.

all im saying is this… we need to be very, very careful in that we aren’t just blindly giving kids access to things that directly effect their sense of identity and worth. if we don’t have some sort of information in schools about how to be critical viewers of media like facebook, in the wise words of Vampire Weekend… the kids don’t stand a chance.

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