Dear Young Men of Social Media,
I read an insightful piece, FYI (if you’re a teenage girl), written by a mom, like me. Mrs. Hall has a strong message for teenage girls in social media. I read it right after I had posted on Instagram and saw a young man from our local school and town “like” a picture I had also “liked”. I didn’t recognize him from his derogatory handle name. I recognized his profile picture. I clicked on his profile to see the sexual hashtags he was using, gross “selfie” captures of himself and his interaction with kids younger than him in our school.
While Mrs. Hall was talking to teenage girls, I have one for you, boys. Yes, you are still boys, working on becoming young men. And I am a mother to one of you, a 16 year-old son.
You see boys, I am engaged in social media for passions I have. I train others how to use social media for good. But I know and see there is a lot of bad in social media. And I want you to run from it. But instead, I see more of you glomming on to the bad and failing to do good social media. And you think your moms or anyone else doesn’t know about the bad.
I know that you now avoid Facebook because Facebook is Mombook. You are friends with your mom on Facebook and think your social media privacy has now been invaded by your mother.
So instead you moved over to Twitter and Instagram. But you think your mom doesn’t read Twitter or Instagram. Keep believing that if you want.
I have been on Twitter for years, that’s centuries in social media time. And even on Instagram I now have social media longevity.
Do you think we don’t see your smack talking, foul language, where’s the party at, smokin’ weed, licking beer cans posts in other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram? Do you think we don’t see the disrespectful, degrading comments you make about women? Do you not realize everything you post in social media is public?
Your coaches can see it. Your teachers can see it. Colleges are watching. Young kids, that look up to you, are watching, thinking this is how to be cool, like you. Or maybe they have a mom, like me, that is in social media seeing what you post, giving heed and warning to my 16 year-old.
Future employers are watching. It’s time to grow up boys, in real life and in social media, for the sake of your future. Be leaders for good.
Don’t be “that guy”. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t post garbage. Don’t ruin your future by being stupid in social media or for that matter, in real life. What you post is public and it’s not just adults watching, it’s young eyes.
And older eyes are watching. My grandma stays connected to me by reading my tweets, looking at my Instagram feed and is now my Facebook friend. She is my filter. While she might not agree with everything I post, I never want to say or post anything that is disrespectful to her.
And my son knows she is watching too. My son makes mistakes. I make mistakes. But we are accountable, to Grandma, offline and online.
So, boys, I want you to grow up to be respectful, honest and kind young men. I don’t want your futures ruined by your naive stupidity in social media. Delete your disrespectful tweets. Delete your partying and gross photos. And give yourself a chance to save your future. I believe many of you are our future leaders, doctors, business owners, educators and farmers. Think of your future the next time you share. Think of your grandma. And think of how you can do good in the world by the technology and tools at your fingertips.
All the best to each of you,