Every so often, I encounter another teenage nightmare unfolding on the internet. It starts out innocent, but as the social media machine takes over, it's an avalanche that threatens to bury everyone alive. And I sit on the sidelines, watching all the chaos as society spirals down into another hate-fest.
For years, I've been obsessed with how social media has taken such a hold of our everyday lives. The writer in me is watching every worst-case scenario play out within the digital world, and I keep asking how it could get worse. (Because as any writer can tell you, it can always get worse.)
In the beginning, social media was a brilliant concept. It was a place where people could connect with each other and form working relationships with people who were on the other side of the planet. But as its popularity grew and more people flocked to various platforms, the social dynamics changed. In some cases, the interactions descended into a toxic cesspit needing a HazMat suit with breathing apparatus to even enter. At which point, another platform would seem to spring forth with the promise of a safe-and-inclusive environment.
Regardless of what social media has become, social media and the internet form a huge part of the world we now live in. My children have never known a life where the internet didn't exist—and my oldest is now in his 20s.
Two decades. So much of our world has changed in those two decades.
So, when I see the teenage nightmares unfolding on social media, it's not surprising to me that there is an outcry of people wanting to make social media an adult-only zone. I can understand where the viewpoints are coming from that want to classify social media usage in the same way we do alcohol and driving. But as the number of these negative events grow—sometimes, resulting in the death of yet another teen—there is only one thought that goes through my mind:
Where are the parents teaching their children how to socially behave on the internet?
If you're willing to stick around, I'll do the best I can to explain why I feel that the deplorable nature of social media is actually the responsibility of parents and how I went about teaching my children to cope with the social media cesspit.
It's an interesting tale, involving Scouts, my children, my writing, and my obsession with social media and online behavior.