Here’s what I’m doing right now. I’m trying to picture myself as a middle schooler in the 1980s. I see myself hanging out with my friends after school, listening to my pink “ghetto blaster,” waiting to see if the DJ will actually broadcast the shout out/dedication to my best friend that I had called in earlier. And then suddenly, I get a picture from my mom of her, sitting at home, making a silly face.
I’m also trying to picture my parents in the late ‘80s while I’m in high school. They are sitting at home with several other couples, having some cocktails and listening to a record. And then suddenly, a group of moms gather around to look at a picture of someone else’s kid hanging out alone in their room on a Monday night.
And neither scenario makes sense to me. Why would I have taken time out of my socializing to check out a photo of my dad getting ready for work? Why would my parents take time out of their socializing to obsess over one of my schoolmates posing with some friends in their backyards?
None of these scenarios make sense because none of us would have wanted to see/know these things. I got through my entire adolescence without my parents constantly checking on me all day long. My parents raised two kids without knowing where we were and what we were doing all the time. And, for the most part, we all turned out just fine.
Did I make mistakes? Absolutely. Did I learn from them? Eventually. Do my parents know about most of these moments? Hell no.
So….this is why I don’t have an Instagram account. Or a Snap Chat. I don’t have a hashtag or an “@“ name that my kids call me. I’m just mom. And when they come home from wherever they were, we have a conversation that goes like this:
“How was it?/Where did you go?Who were you with?”
“Good!/Awful. / To the mall/to a party. / My friends.”
If something great happens, they tell me about it. If something bad happens that they want to share with me, they will. If not, they will work through that problem with the help of friends or they will figure it out on their own.
I don’t want to know anything else. I don’t want to know the expressions on their faces all day long. I don’t want to know who their friends are hooking up with. I can fully admit to all of you that I have posted pictures on my only social media outlet: Facebook, that weren’t an accurate representation of what actually happened. I have my motivations and sometimes they are pretty childish and by the way, I’m 45. If I had access to this type of thing when I was 16, I can’t imagine the pictures that I would have posted.
When I grew up, I hung out in basements. My parents weren’t there with me. Since kids rarely hang out with each other in person, I consider the internet their basement. And I don’t want to be in there with them. I don’t judge others who do, it’s just not who I am. Sometimes I feel like that makes me a bad or irresponsible parent. The technology exists, so why not use it? But no matter how hard I try, I can’t do it. It would mess with my head. I would over-analyze everything. I would go crazy, and trust me, I have enough things that are already making me crazy. I don’t need anything else.
Hopefully, I have established a good enough relationship with my kids that they will come to me if they are in trouble, or I will figure it out on my own. And I won’t do it with the help of Instagram. I will do it the way my parents did it: by just knowing my kids for who they really are, in person.