Guilty

Should Social Media be an Adult-Only Zone?

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.

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LGBTQ+ Terms: A Glossary for the Unknowing Parent

Recently, I decided to binge watch the Netflix series of Sex Education—all three seasons of it, and I'm looking forward to the fourth season (which has been announced as going to happen). It's a racy show that explores the concepts of gender and sexual identity while at the same time reminding us that we are all human. And it is seriously funny.

I will admit that I still see Gillian Anderson as Scully from X-Files, but in every single one of the characters on the show, I can see someone that I know in person.

The show is aimed at teenagers, primarily those 16 years old and older. But if you have never seen the show, let me warn you now that there is open-door sex throughout the show, including in the opening scene of the premiere episode. But the show is not about sex. It's about understanding who we are as human beings, and yes, sex is a part of that.

This post uses medically correct terminology for human reproductive organs. If you are not comfortable with that, then you can stop reading right here.

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Advice out of the mouths of babes

Some years ago, my daughter and I were having a conversation about what it was she would like to do for the coming year. She's a dancer, and at the time, she was interested in the idea of turning her dancing into a career. She was only 13 at the time, but even then, she knew that if she wanted to go professional, she was going to have to work hard to be the best she could be—and some.

The performing arts are just as competitive as the publishing industry, if not more so.

Anyway, I had received an email from her dance school about auditions for a competition dance team. She had never been part of a competition team, but she was being invited specifically to audition. When I asked her if she was interested, she hummed and hawed for a bit, then she said something that hit a little closer to home than she realized.

"I'm never going to make it if I don't take a risk and put myself out there."

BAM! The fist hit me in the gut, and she never lifted a finger. She was talking about her own dreams and her own aspirations, yet her words carried a message that was powerful.

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My Mother at Butterfly Creek

Eulogy for My Mother

It came out of nowhere. There was no warning that something would happen. To top matters off, it was a rare side effect to a standard practice of treatment.

Yet, my world was flipped upside down in a matter of hours.

On Monday 21st September, 2020 at 6:12 pm, I received an odd text message from my father, stating that my mother had a heart attack and was in transit to Christchurch Hospital. It came through on my smartwatch while I was on the toilet. Let's just say that it was the fastest pee-wipe-and-flush that I have ever done in my life.

(I don't think I'll ever understand why he didn't just phone, but that doesn't matter now.)

I'm going to rush past the chaos that happened that night, because it too doesn't matter at this moment. What does matter is that late on Monday evening, my mother developed a brain bleed as a result of a medication that she was given prior to transport to Christchurch. She had a stroke and slipped into a coma.

On Wednesday 23rd September, 2020 at 1:58pm, she was pronounced brain dead.

I have made so many notes about what happened, trying to reason it all in my head. I'm not sure I'll ever fully reason it. But I try.

What follows is the eulogy that I had read out at my mother's memorial service the following week.

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My daughter hates my Instagram

So, I have been informed on multiple occasions that my daughter hates my Instagram feed. And what she hates about it: all the sunrise photos.

As far as she's concerned, I post way too many sunrise photos. She's never really explained to me what she thinks I should post instead, but apparently, my feed is filled with too much sunshine.

But only yesterday I got the following message from one of my friends.

"I enjoy seeing your sunrise photos. It's nice to put a bit of colour in the day - especially with how crazy things are at the moment."

And this is not the only comment that I have gotten about my sunrise photos. It would appear that many people enjoy my feed because of all the sunrise photos.

So, my daughter thinks my feed is filled with too much sunshine, whereas other people love seeing all that color in a crazy world. What is a girl to do—expect laugh!

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