Shows Like '13 Reasons Why' Make It Painfully Obvious That Adults Have No Idea How Social Media Works
Who keeps their ringer on in class anyway?
I have many issues with the show "13 Reasons Why." I could go into the obnoxious casting of adults that look nothing like teenagers or the inaccurate portrayal of mental illness, but today I want to highlight something that was just so jarring to me when I originally watched the show.
Every generation of teenagers has its own unique set of issues to deal with. This generation has to navigate the stress of social media and how it can positively or negatively impact their life in high school.
This problem is unique to newer generations of teenagers, as older generations did not have access to social media or even the Internet when they were in high school. It's a problem that is definitely an interesting aspect of teen life and it should be explored in media and entertainment.
However, the use of social media in today's teen-targeted entertainment always comes off as unnatural and forced - because it is always depicted through an adult's point of view.
When the creators of teen shows go to write these shows, they rarely ever consult actual teenagers, and it shows.
I am so sick of seeing the "mass text" scene in that inexplicably always happens in teen shows. You know the one. In "13 Reasons Why," that particular scene is when the photo Justin took of her going down the slide with her panties visible leaks to the whole school. Everything is normal, and then all of a sudden in class everyone's phones start going off all at once. I hate this.
The first problem with this is that everyone's ringer is on.
I do not know a single teenager who keeps their ringer on while they are at school. For most schools, if teachers hear your phone go off, that gives them the incentive to take it. Most teenagers would probably rather have one of their limbs chopped off than have their phone taken away.
Second, is everyone in this school in one group chat?
Why do all their phones go off at once? Is there some school-wide group chat where people send compromising pictures of students? I don't know about you, but there were about 1,200 people in my high school and there is no way in hell I would want to be in a group chat with everyone in my school.
I understand that the show writers are trying to portray the sense of immediacy that teenagers experience and how quickly word can spread in the current age of technology. However, this can be done in a way more organic manner than having everyone's phones start pinging, followed by giggles and looks at Hannah.
This scenario is just not realistic.
Now it may seem that I am nitpicking when none of this really matters in the grand scheme of things. However, this show prides itself in trying to portray an "accurate" portrayal of how hard it is to be a teenager in modern society and how that can lead to trauma and mental illness.
But if you can't even take the time to ask a teenager what it's like to have social media at their age, why should I believe anything you're saying?
Is having to maintain a pristine social media presence while still in high school daunting? Yes. Do the rise of texting and Snapchat over actual face-to-face interactions further isolate teenagers from each other? Yes. Do these things have a negative impact on teenagers and make it that much harder to function? Yes. Should these problems be portrayed in the media to shed light on these issues? Yes.
But if you are going to do it, do it right.
It's quite irritating when a show tries to parade itself as an accurate portrayal of the problems high schoolers face, but I am forced to watch 30-somethings pretend to know what being a teenager today is like as they read lines from a script obviously written by adults who probably haven't come in contact with a teenager for at least 30 years.