This morning on Google+ (where I spend most of my online time these days), a friend whom I haven’t seen in person since 1989 linked to a photo on her Flickr page of the day she met her current husband. Beyond congratulations for having a relationship last that long, this got sidetracked into a discussion of how people in the ancient times got together before the internet existed. You had photos of your younger self wearing period clothing but as one person said, "Polaroids don’t go viral" and I added "They also don’t come with a comments section."
I really don’t know how teenagers today manage with everything they do online, particularly with the potential for public shaming. Combining the adolescent lack of judgement with that kind of instant sharing and the cloak of anonymity can make even the most mature, well adjusted teen’s life a total misery.
At age 40, I have a pretty good idea of how I come across and what’s appropriate to share on Facebook. At 14, I had no such self-awareness. But for today’s teens, this isn’t anything new. Facebook was always there for them so the coping strategies will evolve accordingly. My advice to teens: Your grandparents see everything you do. Your privacy filters don’t work on them. Not true, perhaps but it’s a decent rule of thumb.
Bullying isn’t anything new, of course and high school is always a struggle for young people at the best of times. We didn’t have Facebook but we had rumours, which traveled faster than broadband and they had their own destructive power.
And, as I never kept a diary, perhaps it would be beneficial to have a digital archive of some parts of your life available to you. I’ve often met up with people from my high school who recall events involving me that I can’t bring to mind no matter how vivid their own recollection might be. But memory is a weird, deceptive thing with odd, random triggers. The song, "That’s All" by Genesis recently triggered a strong memory of me at age 11, sitting in the back of my friend’s station wagon as we drove down Rothesay Avenue in Saint John as that song played on the radio. It was late but I can’t for the life of me remember where we were coming from or what time of year it was. I think it was summer. Maybe.
So who knows what Facebook does to your memories.