The Progressive Sort of Hope

Let’s talk about Social Media.

I’m in a bit of a heated debate with someone right now about Social Media and children, specifically teens…

When I was pregnant with my now 16 year old son, I sold homepages to companies. Imagine if you will, a world not familiar with this thing called The Intenet. It was not quite 2 decades ago. These large companies I was calling to offer an internet presence to had never even heard of this thing called “The Internet”. Back then the only people with email addresses were college students, Libraries and some very large companies. I remember a collegue and close friend of mine trying to sell a home page to a very respected retailer when the CEO told her ” No one will ever buy anything over this thing called ‘the internet.” I’d imagine he would like to eat those words now. He probably didn’t have that title for very long, either.

Shortly (in relevant terms) after the Internet was born , Facebook was created. Then Twitter and things like Instagram, etc. New and fascinating pieces of Social Media are being born for this world to enjoy (or not) practically every day. Along with Social Media, come the ways to use that media. Laptops and Smart phones, iPods and iPads. I know my children, especially my daughter and her friends document practically every moment of their day with their Smartphone. Photos of her and her friends and their daily movements are plentiful. Heck, they even take pictures of their conversations!

My kids, who live in the same house, saying goodnight to each other. Natalia kept a screen shot of their conversation.

To that end, it is my contention that Social Media is here to stay. I take the stance that rather than deny kids access to things like the Internet  and it ‘s offerings ie: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc , it is our job as parents/adults to teach them how to handle such things. We need to teach them how to deal with the ramifications of their behavior on said sites and how to use them wisely.  It is our responsibility to teach them that whatever is posted today, will be there in their tomorrows.

I have come to learn that not everyone shares these views and some people close to me believe that it is better to shelter the children from these things. Lock them away, if you will. Deny them the right to use them. I fear that doing so will only harm the kids and make it worse for them once they reach the age that we are no longer in control of their actions. I feel as though behavior like that is as antiquated as the dial phone.  

Social media is a part of everything we do these days. We can order our dinners, select our new clothes, even turn on our lights, start our cars and control the environment of our homes all in an instant and all within one or two clicks of a mouse or swipe of a finger. I think that we are foolish to think that our children should not be involved in that world.

If someone bullies my child in the Social Media world, rather than yank my child from that world to shelter and protect them,  it should be my job to teach my child how to handle it. To give my child confidence and strength. To teach them what to do about it and provide them with the valuable lesson that bullying is never ok, whether it’s a spoken or a written word.

A big part of being a teen is pushing and testing limits. When we were teens I am fairly certain ( if failing memory serves) we cursed, we complained and we teased. The difference being,  it was probably in our best friend’s basement or in the school yard. It wasn’t visible for the world to see. Now, it’s available  for all of our “friends” to see AND to comment on 24/7.  (Friending- a whole other blog I can’t wait to write…) I suppose that’s the incredibly big difference. We could shut the world off and go to sleep, safe in the comfort of our homes and away from the constant drama.  But our children can’t . It never goes away for them and it is up to us as parents to set their limits and to educate these children how to balance real/tangible life *and* their Social Medial lives that they live “in” their Smartphones.

How can we expect our children to evolve into successful adults unless we provide them with the experiences and tools that allow them to grow, to succeed and yes, to feel hurt and also to fail?  (The real world is not always a positive place, as much as we wish it were so.) Maybe once upon a time those experiences happened on a playground, but now those life lessons sometime happen in a laptop or on a Smartphone. These devices are every bit as much a part of their world now, too. Rather than shelter them from it, I want to allow my children every opportunity to learn from these new worlds that I can.  And just as their world around them is changing so,  I believe, are the roles of  their parents.

I feel as though denying our children access to these amazing ever evolving things like Social Media and Smartphones would be denying them , as well as ourselves access to the  future and I for one , am too excited about the future to do that.

Your thoughts?

This pics from May of 09. Couldn’t find any other pics of me or the children on the computer. Best I could do. I need to take some random pics for this blogging thing, it would seem.

The Sort of Hope that’s here. Right here, right now.

Sometimes , when you have a chronic condition, you have to make choices on what gets your energy for your hour, your day, your week. There’s been something written about this that’s circled the globe a few times called “The Spoon Theory” ~ I use it when I have to explain to my new friends or even to reiterate to family why I sometimes can’t do more than a certain amount of things in one day. Why sometimes choosing to take a shower and straighten my hair means I can’t drive later that day. Or why driving and running errands means I won’t be cooking later that evening.  I just sometimes run out of spoons. I was afraid today was going to be one of those days. My family often ‘forgets’ that I am sick. Which is fine with me, because I sometimes do, too. And there are many times that I would just like to forget , as well. Though there are many , many times that I wish I *could* just forget.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

I had lunch today with my parents and 2 amazing women from Blue Cross. They brought a  giant basket filled with goodies for the Chinese Auction at my upcoming benefit. But more importantly, they brought themselves.

Getting to the lunch was challenge of the day #2. I had already showered (challenge #1)  and skipped the hair straightening because I knew I had to drive. Driving is not easy for me for many reasons. I’ll spare you those. So into the car I go. I am currently driving a 1995 Volvo. It does not have working air conditioning. Understand that I am completely grateful to have a car at all. Having no air is not a big deal for most  healthy people. It is usually just considered an inconvenience. For me it is like asking for trouble. Here comes challenge #2.  Moving air hurts me. And I can’t really expect healthy people to understand that. Wind hurts.Fans hurt.  If you ever had a toothache maybe you can understand. Picture a giant full body exposed tooth. And the wind blowing against it. It’s *kinda* like that. Or an open wound. And not only does the wind from those rolled down windows hurt me, the noise that it makes is beyond painful.( I had mentioned in a previous blog that my nervous system interprets some (most) noises as pain.)My body also does not do well at regulating extreme temperatures so leaving the windows up and just toughing it out is not an option either. I would boil.  But off I went.

By the time I arrived at the restaurant 20 minutes later I was not a  happy girl. I was in pain. Lots of pain. Seeing my parents always helps me to forget that a bit. I’ve got amazing parents. They are kind, generous, loving people. They are still so very in love after 45 years.  My father has been battling severe heart disease since his late 30’s- and my mom , diabetes. They have taught me how to fight. How to be brave. And I know that seeing me sick hurts them. So I smile as hard as I can when I am with them. I don’t ever want to be the cause of more pain for them.

Challenge #3. Chairs. Wood chairs. I shift, shuffle, get up and down an awful lot.

Challenge #4 Temperature of the restaurant. It’s cold in here. I brought a jacket. I’m already wearing a cami and a sweater. ( I couldn’t over dress because of the car….). I also always have soft socks and gloves in my handbag. Don’t worry, they get switched and washed often. Usually when I have to bust the socks out I pray no one can see under the table. After 12 years I’ve gotten less vain about this, but I’m still vain.

Challenge #5 what to eat. My immune system has changed so much since I’ve gotten sick and since I began treatment. I was never really a big meat eater now I am allergic to shellfish and nuts. Plus I have a lot of weird food hang ups. ( that’s a whole other , oddly entertaining blog). My digestive system has been affected by my disease so I have to be really careful with what I eat.

Challenge #6 As we said our good byes outside I heard the telltale whistle of the train. the restaurant was right next to railroad tracks. the noise! the vibrations! I thanked our generous guests and hugged and kissed my parents and got in my car as fast as I possibly could. ( which isn’t really fast).

Challenge #7 Back in the non air conditioned car for Challenge #8 more driving.

REMEDY: Picked Nick up from school and my day got immediately better. My son’s smile can turn my worst day around in a flash. His dimple! I needed it today like a drug addict needs their fix. But he was leaving me .. so it would be only a momentary high.

I need down time every day or I get pretty crabby. And a crabby Hope is not someone you want to know. ( ask my kids). But it didn’t look like I was going to get any today. Not even 15 minutes. I was heading straight to crabbyville -in the fast lane.

Challenge #9/10 back to  the car, back to the drive.

REMEDY:  My Natalia. have you ever met someone who is so effervescent that their mere presence changes the whole essence of a room? That’s my Natalia.

I know she can sense when I am over the edge. I know she can tell when I have reached my limit. She always has this ‘way’ of just being able to push me , to help me make it a little bit further. Today was no exception. We were driving home from dropping Nick off. She found a song she liked, turned up the radio , pushed the sunroof back and stuck her hands out and started dancing them around in the wind. It was just so silly looking . So carefree. So her.

~And with that, I wasn’t thinking about my pain.I was thinking about how lucky I was. How lucky I am.  And there isn’t any other place I’d rather be or any other person I’d rather be.

“You know, it feels good to be alive.”

* I did not write this looking for sympathy. I just want people to be a bit more understanding of others. A bit more tolerant. Just because someone “looks good” doesn’t mean they feel good.

And as I go to hit “publish” on this, I know that there are typos. Grammatical, punctuation and others. But it is late and my eyes aren’t working together any more – another Challenge. Almost forgot about that one.

I have always told my children, you never know what sort of day someone has had until the point that they have met with you. Give them the benefit of the doubt and if they are a bit grumpy , perhaps show them just a little bit more kindness. Kindness is one of the few things that are still free.