Being the mother of a teen, in my 50’s, is not a walk in the park. At least not the park I used to take her, when she was little. We had wonderful times together, when her imagination ran freely, and we hung out with imaginary Unicorns and Mermaids. We accepted each other as we were, and our time was free of judgements and expectations, other than the afternoon ice cream. Those memories help me cope with the sad reality we simply cannot spend that much time together anymore, due to the daily demands from school and my work. Still I long for a time where we were just happy to be together albeit our differences.
As she matures and questions everything around her, as she should, my heart sometimes gets heavy watching how social media is negatively shaping their minds and their ability to think for themselves, and I wonder if they are asking the right questions. I am not debating human rights here, I am debating youth mental health. I am in full support of free speech and progress. And obviously total inclusion and diversity.
My own questions revolve around our responsibilities as adults and parents. Aren’t we, older and theoretically wiser? Aren’t we the people supposed to take care of our youngsters? Then why the majority of us is losing the battle against cancel culture and social media pressure?
I don’t presume to have the answers, but I do believe keeping communication channels opened with our kids, and common interests, may be the only chance we have at this point. I do insist in daily chats, even when she seems completely absorbed by the images jumping at her face at the speed of light. Adolescence is one of the most challenging periods in our lives and a time when teens distance themselves from parents , to wonder into other groups, in search of their own identity and acceptance. As a former counselor, I was able to listen to many teenagers struggling with guilt, having to choose between parental advice and peer pressure. Not a walk in the park for them either, at least not a walk with their parents anymore. This time they feel completely alone and vulnerable.
You mix all of this, with full access to unlimited online time, surfing on waters with an amount of information that not even a fully developed cortex can handle, and you have cancel culture. There we have it. As amazing as our youth is, with their incredible ability to demand important changes in our society, they have not experienced life to the fullest yet. Which creates the difficulty in understanding why people become who they become, and have baggage with opinions who may differ heavily from theirs. It’s logic. It’s called life experience, something you cannot rush or get from social media. The tragedy lies on the fact, that not all of us are lucky enough to grow up in loving homes and healthy environments. Hence the hate culture. And although I believe there is an explanation, I also know there is no justification for hate, exclusion or cruelty in any shape or form.
Cancel culture values comes with an abundance of contradictions. The main motto is inclusion and respect for others, but when some of the ‘others’ show up carrying the heavy luggage with different point of views, due to their life experiences, they get “cancelled”. I was never really sure of what cancelled culture meant, until I created a tik tok account, hoping to better understand what’s going on outside my personal world. I still cannot quite grasp the concept of wasting time cancelling a hateful human being who will continue on their meaningless journey, whether you “cancelled” them or not. When I was growing up, we cancelled checks and credit cards, not people, simply because cancelling someone by constantly talking about them publicly, just makes these awful people even more famous. Not to mention, that people who cancel others, are now being scrutinized themselves. Sad and ironic. The world does not need anymore hate speech and exclusion. We should strive to find a way to put them in their place, which is the “not important” place, where no one visits, no one comments, no one participates or engages. Leaving them to do what they do best alone . We are only treating the symptoms, but not really curing the disease. This is going to take way much more effort than falling into the trap of perpetuating negativity with more negativity. I say with fight hate with love.
I simply don’t engage with anything or anyone in social media who has a hate speech or less than a kind platform, for the simple fact that life is too short for me to add more negativity into my life. My time is precious and priceless, and I am teaching this my kid daily. I don’t feel that hating haters on their page, is going to do the trick for us, people who believe in love. The new generation is so lucky to have the luxury of being able to ignore what makes them feel bad about themselves, by not answering their texts or snapchats, since phone calls are sadly becoming a thing from the past, but they don’t make use of that privilege, as a matter of fact, they feel the urge to engage and respond to comments that aim to put our kids down and destroy their self-image. Creating serious mental health issues and self-esteem challenges, during a time that feeling valued and worthy is so vital. Unfortunately they measure their worth, by the amount of strangers who follow them. Imagine how did older generations survive with only a limited amount of friends from their school and neighborhoods? Because it was enough.
Being loved by the right people is, was and will always be enough. My prayer is that my teen, continues her journey towards a fulfilling and successful life, where she is loved by the people who matter in her life, people who care about what she has to say, even when what she says is the opposite of what they expect. Love is all we need.
No need to cancel what you don’t follow.