Contributed by Hannah Rinehart, LPC, DCC
So often there are themes for my work day or week… much of the time that theme is social media. There are good and bad sides to it. Today there were frustrations between a parent and teenager trying to work out expectations and rules for managing their phone and social media. Yesterday it was the same story. Someone else brought up the Duggars and the current news about Josh. They were talking about how all the people online are “beating him up” (much of it she said was deserved but her concern was that people are so much harsher online than they would be if they were talking to his face).
This got me thinking… why is that? Why are we struggling as a society with rules around social media? Why do we post so much? Why do people care where we ate or visited? Why do we want to have all these “anonymous” sites where we can post or write whatever we want, use language we wouldn’t use on a daily basis and yet we have no idea of the impact or implications of our words?
One adolescent I was talking to said that her words are not “real” when they are written. Only spoken. That she is “just kidding” most of the time when she texts, posts, comments, etc. This idea that our words don’t have consequences scares the mess out of me. How could this be? I have one person sitting here saying there are no consequences and the very next person I see might be crying because they have been bullied online. Because they are heartbroken by the words someone wrote to them. Why are we so disconnected and why does the Internet make people feel so powerful?
I want to challenge parents and teenagers alike: take time to unplug this summer. Look around you. Actually SEE what is around you Take a walk. Breathe. Talk to your real friends sitting beside you (instead of texting someone who isn’t there). Start recognizing quality relationships over numbers of followers. In a word, simplify.
Simplify your life. Simplify your relationships. Simplify, unplug and connect with your own heart… and see the amazing things that can happen as a result.