After a round of email correspondence in 2008, a friend wrote back, “You know, you should really join Facebook. It’s so much easier to communicate with friends over there. I think you’d love it.”
I was dubious. I had managed to avoid MySpace and barely understood the internet in general, so I sat resolute in keeping my distance from social media. Eventually, my friends wore me down and I grudgingly joined Facebook. Twelve years, 500 friends, and a robust social media-managing career later, I think it’s safe to say that my friend created a social media nightmare the day he introduced me to Facebook as we chatted over AOL.
And that was just the beginning.
I learned to store my precious family memories on nebulous clouds, whose existence I still don’t quite grasp. I wrote my first tweet. I texted, IM’d and I DM’d. I downloaded and uploaded, I streamed and I synced. I even learned to hashtag. I purchased a phone that allowed me to control everything my family needed, from grocery delivery to movie watching to tracking their whereabouts.
In the last several years, I have jumped on pretty much every social media bandwagon and trend.
I worship at the holy trinity of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram when it comes to keeping up with family and friends. I even broke down and joined Snapchat because, let’s face it, those filters are good for a 40-something’s ego. (#allthefiltersplease)
It’s been exhausting, particularly when my kids became teens who have their own social media accounts. I read article after article about the importance of keeping up with the latest social media trends, not only connect with my teens but to also keep them safe from cyberbullying and internet predators. So I did just that.
I followed my kids on their IG accounts—and made them promise me that they wouldn’t open a “Finsta” account. I trade memes with them via text and try not to roll my eyes when they show me the content they are obsessed with on YouTube.
I’ve been a good sport. Really.
When the coronavirus hit and my Facebook news feed was flooded with TikTok videos my friends were making out of sheer quarantine boredom, I realized I had reached my social media line in the proverbial sand. Yes, the videos are creative and funny. Yes, my teens love creating zany content with their friends. And yes, during the long boring hours of quarantine, several of those videos made me actually laugh out loud.
But I’m tired. I’m weary. I just want to sit on my Facebook front porch and drink my black coffee as I shake my fist at those whippersnappers who are memorizing dances that make me exhausted just watching them.
At what point can a parent just say to their teens, “Good luck! Have fun! And don’t get arrested by the internet police!” when it comes to online platforms? At what point can I say, “I’ve raised you to be a good digital citizen. Now go forth and don’t embarrass me on social media?”
Because TikTok makes me want to say that out loud to my teens. I don’t want to monitor dance content I don’t have time to learn. And I definitely don’t want to spend hours on end spiraling down the rabbit hole of witty content that keeps me from updating my IG stories on the regular.
Being a parent of digital natives is ever-changing and mind numbing. Just when I think I’ve gotten the hang of every platform out there, an app drops that makes me want to run screaming for the hills.
So I am not joining TikTok. And that’s final.
I’m tired of having to learn new things in an online world. There. I said it. Can’t we just all agree that we have enough social media apps to go around? Can someone start an online petition for the parents of teens who can’t fit another app on their phones because their storage clouds are filled to the brim with the thousands of pictures that will never see the light of day?
I want off the social media ride, and you can keep the change, thank you very much.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be reminiscing about the days when we watched videos on VHS and I didn’t use “Google” as a verb.