Lots of fun games revolve around hiding or being in the shadows. Hide-and-seek is the clear favorite there, but you also have any mock military action or maybe a water balloon ambush. Halloween is tonight, so I’m sure there will be at least one group of teenagers that will sneak around looking for somewhere to plant their roll of toilet paper. As long as that one is in good fun, then it’s just that. . . good fun.
But here in the internet age, the shadows that started out as chat rooms have evolved into social media. News media can tell us once a week about some predator that used social media to lure a young person into a less-than-desireable place and situation. Maybe even into one where they disappear forever. Obviously, parenting in the 21st century should include the “do’s” and “don’t’s” of how to communicate online, especially when it comes to those you don’t know.
If you don’t think something like that could ever apply to your teenager, or pre-teen, then take a look at this video.
Pretty scary to think it really could be that easy if yours or mine were really inclined to do so. (Good news at our house is – only Kara has a phone, and it’s not wired for the web. . text and call only. So, if you wanna snatch a Scott kid, you might have to send them a letter through U.S. mail.)
But, the less-predatatory realm of hiding in the internet shadows is one that we see more often. It’s the world of being someone on social media that I’d never be in real person. This can come in many forms. I’m sure this list is not exhaustive, but:
1 – The exercise professional: In real life, you might run every once in a while or even stop by the Y on the way home from work. But, online you make it appear like workouts define you. Three lunges = “leg day”; a 1/2 mile run gets a post about how it’s hard to get out of bed the next day after you’re preparing for your 1/2 marathon; wandering around the gym for an hour and barely touching the weights turns into how your pre-workout kicked in and you couldn’t leave the gym without maxing out everything upper body.
2 – Confrontations waiting to happen: In real life, you’re a normal person. Fake smile to strangers, probably attend church at least semi-regularly, love your family, are a good friend. . . you get the picture. But, on social media, you are ready to tell everyone how you put someone in their place or put them down. “I called that guy and told him how stupid I thought this was,” in an effort to get 150 likes and at least 10-15 supportive comments. Or, “He does not want me calling/coming down there.” In truth, you probably did call and were cordial and understanding, or you might not have had the intestinal fortitude to call or come down anywhere.
3 – Party like it’s . . . whenever: In real life, you’re single and really don’t like going out. You do sometimes just to say you have, but are usually back home watching TV before the 10 o’clock news. Nothing wrong with that. But, you portray yourself as clubbing it up into the wee hours of just about any morning. The classy part is, someone usually finds a picture to post where you can’t quite focus on the camera. I’m sure future prospective employers will never check your Facebook. (Let me say from experience. . . yes, we will.)
I could go on for days. The point is – what do you gain from putting on this facade? To be someone that others know you’re probably not, act like someone you’d never be, or whatever the case may be.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I can respect someone I disagree with a whole lot more when we can agree to disagree and do so face-to-face. At least I know where you stand and why. And you probably took the time to hear my side from me and I took the time to talk to you. Instead of just being a social media diva, hiding in the internet shadows.
Either way, parents – caution your kids about what they do and say and also to whom they communicate with in this day and age. Wolves are everywhere in sheep’s clothing.
Wonder where that modern-day kind of evil comes from?
“Rescue me, Lord, from evil men. Keep me safe from violent men who plan evil in their hearts. They stir up wars all day long. They make their tongues as sharp as a snake’s bite; viper’s venom is under their lips.”