I grew up playing in the creek behind my house. I grew up learning to shoot a BB gun in my backyard in my bare feet. I grew up sitting at the dinner table every night with my parents and younger brother. I grew up with no cell phone, and a laptop that did not connect to the internet. I grew up with dial-up internet and I would use it to download clip art of puppies and kittens. I did not grow up attached to my cell phone. I did not grow up on social media; I grew up in a social environment.
I remember the day that I was finally allowed my Facebook. Myspace was just going out of trend and Facebook was the up-and-coming thing. All of my seventh-grade friends had a Facebook and would always talk about the games they played or the funny “tag your friend that…” pictures. The only online game I was used to was Webkinz. My mom promised me that on my upcoming birthday I would finally be allowed to create a Facebook account; however, there were a few speculations. First of all, I was not allowed to post my real birthday, my hometown or my phone number. Second of all, I was only allowed to add friends that I knew personally. Lastly, my mom had to have my password and email to access the account whenever she felt it necessary. Along with that, both of my parents had a sit-down talk with me on how important it was for me to not answer any comments, requests or messages from someone I didn’t know.
When I finally got Facebook, there was a lot in the media about girls who were kidnapped by older men who posed as young boys on social networks and preyed on those young girls. Social media made it easy for these predators to gain easy access to young victims.
Young victims who are naive and on the verge of puberty, hormonal at the very least. These girls suffer through several middle school crushes a month, maybe even many a week. Having a boy to make them feel good about themselves and sweet talk them would only make them more and more vulnerable. These factors made it that much easier for these victims to get comfortable and potentially abducted by these predators. Like any mom, my mom feared this and made sure to eliminate the possibility by having access to my entire profile. Hell, today there is an entire TV show dedicated to the people who pose as people they aren’t and the lives they ruin on the way.
Social media has given girls too high of expectations for relationships. Social media has given guys the lower hand. It has shown girls that guys show their devotion to them by spoiling them with sentimental things. I grew up watching fairy tales, and some might say that those have set the expectations too high, but I’ve found my own Prince Charming. He might not surprise me and buy $500 worth of Victoria Secret clothes and five dozen roses like Twitter says he should, but he most definitely makes me feel wanted and loved.
Social media has fueled fights that were probably completely unnecessary. Just because someone hits “like” on a picture, doesn’t mean that they want to marry the person who posted it. It’s not uncommon for young people to have daily arguments involving one of them liking someone’s post that they “shouldn’t have liked."
On social media, we all follow people for the sole purpose to lurk on them. Maybe we have a nasty past with them, maybe we envy them, maybe our significant other has a connection to them. Regardless of the reason, something that they post has the potential to affect our entire day. Maybe they posted a "Throwback Thursday" picture and one of your friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend is in it, chances are you’ll get annoyed, even if you never confront them, you’ll feel a certain type of way. Or maybe they post a picture from last night’s party and your boyfriend or girlfriend is in it. But they told you they weren’t going out? Why were they there? Why didn’t they tell you they were going? Lurking on pages doesn’t always give you the result you expected. It sometimes backfires.
Not to mention the potential there is that you might not land your dream job. Since the day I got my social media, my mom has cautioned me to be careful of what I post because I never knew who was looking at my page. Now that I’m in college, it is tempting to post some of my favorite pictures to my Instagram or Twitter, but some of them wouldn’t be dubbed appropriate by an employer because of the red solo cup in hand. It’s very necessary to be very vigilant of what you’re posting. Today, employers have special access to social media pages and even if you think your privacy settings are bullet proof, chances are that they aren’t.
Sure, our parents and grandparents never had to worry about this kind of stuff, but these are just some of the things that Social media has done to my generation.