One of the best things about the internet is it’s ability to give us instant, peer-to-peer interaction. This could be anything from friendly advice to something more technical, like the various Live Chat programs many sites provide for instant help and information.
This is a double edged sword, however, when your peers aren’t interested in helping you.
One of the best things I did for my self as a kid was keep a private paper diary. I could say whatever stupid teenage crap I needed to say without fear of backlash from my parents who respected that privacy, or my friends who were on a need-to-know basis. Nowadays, these same typical teenage rants are often broadcast online under the guise of privacy by kids too young to understand the concept, and dying for someone else to empathize.
We all remember this video.
As out of control as this was, and as disappointing it was to see folks in either the “Haha dumb little bitch” camp or the “Lol your daughter’s gonna be a stripper” camp, this is an absolutely textbook teen tude. After this video was made, both the man and his daughter discussed the incident together, and his daughter made it quite clear she had no intention on becoming an adult performer. I won’t go into details on how angry I was that the world at large seems to think the fragile egos of teenage girls drive them solely to sex and ruin, or that exotic dancing is something to be woefully ashamed of, but that’s another post for another day.
Parents need to be wary of this stuff, and kids need to know where it’s okay to write this stuff down to blow off steam. Had I the ability at 13 or 14 years of age to write down my feelings for my small yet opinionated world to see as a kid, I’d probably be extremely confused.
I know this sounds odd coming from someone who has Blogged on the net in one way or another since 2002, ( I look at my LiveJournal and want to claw my face off) but there are certain things that are better off said on paper to absolutely no one. Kids as young as 10 or 11 are now turning to the internet with their worst fears, or their issues with self esteem.
Of course if you read the comments, you’ll find a mix of complete creeps, trolls and people who mean well. Welcome to the internet!
In my last post I talked about how hard it is to NOT struggle with self esteem and identity issues. Parents need to be all over this stuff. Kids are sneaky, and it’s very tough to keep them away from everything that will harm them. I managed to sneak my way into some rather dark tunnels as a kid, but I always had an adult to pull me out.
(Thanks Mom and Dad)
As lame as they’ll probably think you are, encouraging your kids to keep a paper diary may be something you want to try. Understand that you as a parent will probably be the target of vitriol either way, but that’s ok. Every mother or father on the planet will at some point deal with a hormonal, raging child saying awful crap to them. When it comes down to it, they love you. Just shake your head, and love them back. They’re venting. That’s ok. The best part is, they can look at it later and judge their behavior by themselves with a cooler head. Hopefully!
(Thanks Mom and Dad…again…)
I can’t imagine how awful my self esteem would be if I counted on the internet to make me feel better about myself or dole out advice. It’s ok for the small stuff like where to get Thai Food or whatever…but for big stuff?
Maybe not such a hot idea.
So call me old fashioned if you must, but there’s something to be said for keeping a private paper diary. Something comforting. Knowing you can get something off your chest without having it analyzed to death by your equally confused pals, or winding up pissing off your parents. Granted this isn’t just a teen phenomenon. I see some pretty embarrassingly personal posts on my Facebook by people my age or older. Each to their own, but man.
When something really important comes up and I really need help, I ask the people I trust to be honest with me. I do the same thing when I don’t feel so hot about my looks. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be complimented. It’s normal. People like to feel good about themselves. And for god’s sake, TAKE THE COMPLIMENT. You’d be surprised how much that action alone will change you.
So give it a try. If you’re 11, if you’re 80. Sometimes the best advice comes from your own head once you shake the junk out of it. This is a link to some extremely cute diaries by Kreativlink on Etsy.
Make it personal! If you’re crafty, make your own!
There is something that’s also rather cathartic in reading old hand-written journal entries. 10 years ago I was so different. I can reflect on the paths that took me to where I am now. Picking up a book the 14 year old me poured her heart out into helps me understand how I’ve grown when I’m feeling stagnant. If there’s more growing to be done. There’s no confusing commentary, just raw me. I’ve been privileged to some of my own mother’s childhood writings, as well as my great grandmothers diaries.
Imagine if my great grandmother’s struggles with marrying outside her religion were plastered on Facebook 100 years ago.
In a nutshell, it is important to write down how you feel, because you can process it. It is not always smart to show everyone else. Approval is something we all seek in one time or another in our lives, and criticism is inevitable. Make sure you get it from the right people. Wanna know where to find a good vegetarian place? Yelp. Wanna know how babby is formed? Ask ur dokter.