Girls Gone Social: the struggle is real.

Friend: “Where’s your new house exactly?”
Me: “It’s just right off of…uh…that one road….uh….{yells across the room} HEY TAYLOR – WHERE DO WE LIVE AGAIN?”

This is the mental capacity I’m working with these days. Moment of silence for the moms of daughters I get to chat with tonight about social media. I fear it’s going to be rough for them.

But since I do get to chat with them, I’ve been pondering what to share. I love talking to parents about social media, but I really love talking to parents of daughters. Girls have a unique set of struggles online.

As of this moment on January 9th, 2014, here are some of the biggest struggles I see with our teen girls online:

1. Subtweeting.

Twitter has really taken off a lot more with our teens. Reading their tweets is a lot like being trapped inside their 13 year old brains for a day, which is hilarious and terrifying and sometimes mind-numbing.

“Sooooo hungry.”
“Wearing my new cute shirt today.”
“CAN IT BE FRIDAY ALREADY.”

But more and more, I see some treasures known as “subtweets”. It’s a way to talk about someone without actually tagging them in the post.

“Really? You’re just going to pretend like we aren’t fighting?”
“I saw you trying to talk to him. You know he doesn’t like you.”
“I heard you tell that joke 3 times today. No one cares.”

It’s passive-aggressive girl fighting. And it’s dirty. It invites the entire world to be an audience to caddy remarks.

I am not a fan of mean subtweets. Not a fan at all.

2. Selfies.

I hear people talk about how selfies are a new thing because of social media and that’s just not true.

My best friend Mari-Kate and I took more pictures of ourselves in junior high/high school than you can even imagine. I have an entire storage container full of them. (Taken, of course, on a disposable camera and developed at Walgreens which makes me feel old.)

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Selfies aren’t new, but the whole sharing-them-with-everyone is new.

I get it, because I was a teen girl once, but it breaks my heart to see Instagram feeds full of nothing but selfies. The feedback they solicit is simply not healthy. “Am I really pretty? I hope I get a lot of likes.” “Will anyone notice how skinny I look because I’m holding the camera at a ridiculous angle?”

It sets our girls up for 1 of 2 things: insecurity or narcissism.

I posted a picture of Velveeta cheese yesterday (#cleaneating). Would I have been devastated when no one commented? No. But it might be a different story if no one liked or commented on the picture I posted of my massive preggo belly. The stakes are much higher when it’s me: my face, my hair, my body, my clothes.

Let’s reign those dudes in, y’all. (And for heaven’s sake..DIE, DUCK FACES. DIE.)

3. Entitlement.

Social media is the place you can post anything at any time for any reason. But what happens when you start getting reactions to your posts? When people start following you? Liking your stuff? Complimenting your sense of humor?

You start to develop an unhealthy self image. You start kinda thinking that everyone wants to hear what you say at all times. You expect comments and retweets because…it’s you and you are worth listening to. Clearly.

I saw a tweet the other day along the lines of “If you get a retweet from me, you’re lucky. That doesn’t happen often.”

Whoa, you guys. I just had no idea she was anointed queen of the universe. I must have missed her ceremony. She dictates who gets a retweet? Such social power she holds.

…except she gave herself the title. She made herself royalty, and all of her friends did the same. They’re all the greatest. They all want to be queen. They’re all striving to be famous.

Between selfies and retweets and likes and favorites, social media has a tendency to breed self-centeredness and entitlement. As if teenagers don’t already struggle with that enough.

Helping our girls see outside of themselves is so, so crucial in life in general, but especially to help combat the narcissistic culture found online. (And, for the record, adults could probably use a little dose of humility, too. We are not exempt from this culture, we just hide it better.)

4. Exclusivity.

I hear this all. the. time: “My daughter’s friend posted a picture from a party that she wasn’t invited to.” I also here it from my teen girls whose hearts are broken because they were excluded from something.

On one hand, your daughter won’t be invited to every single event and it’s important she realizes that. We live in a world with public lives – we see and hear everything that happens – but the rules haven’t changed. Every social gathering does not include every member of the human kind. It just can’t. And that’s ok.

On the flip side, it sucks to be the odd one out. It especially sucks to be purposefully excluded. You can’t control what other kids post, but you can certainly help your own daughter make wise decisions about what she posts in those situations.

Ahh, girls.

It’s hard to be one and, I can imagine, even harder to be the parent of one.

Do these things sound familiar in your house? What else do your teen girls struggle with on social media?

And teen friends – what hurts your feelings the most online?

2 thoughts on “Girls Gone Social: the struggle is real.

  1. Diana T.

    So many good points here, especially your reminder that adults are not immune from these ill-effects. I love your writing and I’m so glad you’ve taken up this mission!

     
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  2. Hannah

    I love the way you unpack this problem. I think that you exposed the inner insecurities behind selfies out. I’m a college girl at a Christian university and I have the same heartbreak over the selfies that I see cluttering my Instagram.

     
    Reply

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