It's funny how two things that you never expect to happen simultaneously do just that; they happen in almost incredible synchronicity. This week I had the pleasure of doing what I do every summer: talking to teens across the world and exploring the trending issues that relate to them.
Well, wouldn't you just know it that this summer I was on a mission to find out about social media blunders, faux pas and all things embarrassing that occur with our high-tech world. I started with what happens when teens press the 'send' button too quickly, and their message gets sent to the wrong person. I started by sharing one of my personal social media faux pas. When my daughter was in college I sent her a text message that said, "I love you so much, Sweetheart. XOXO."
Turns out, I sent the message to a man with whom I worked, because he was alphabetically close to my daughter in my contacts list. He and I later had a good laugh about the text, and it was more of a funny parenting story than an irreverisble mistake, but I have since learned to pause before hitting the 'send' button. I don't want to send out any sentiments that I will later have to retract.
According to the teens with whom I spoke, their mistakes usually fall into three categories:
1. Wrong message to the wrong person: In most cases, they described sending a message intended for a friend to a parent instead and, as you might imagine, they ended up in trouble. Is this a case of the subconscious at work, quick fingers or some blend of the above? We will have to explore it further.
2. Wrong picture to the wrong person: This is a huge embarrassment . Perhaps they intended a photo for a boyfriend and it went to a friend or a relative instead. Major oops.
3. Embarrassing photos posted on some form of social media: This photo was usually inappropriate and was said to be posted by a friend for public viewing on Facebook.
Now, at the same time that the teens and I were talking about pausing before sending messages, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is well-known for his sexting activities, was once again mired in controversy about illicit communication with women long after he promised the public that he had terminated this behavior. He is concerned about how this will affect his current bid for Mayor of New York.
With all due respect, I suggest that Mr. Weiner get some help and remember that as an adult and a potentially elected official, he has a responsibility to adults AND their teen kids to act in an impeccably squeaky-clean manner. When you run for public office, you are accountable to more than just your wife. You are also accountable to your constituency, who does not want to teach their teens one thing while at the same time having to explain your out-of-control behavior.
If you want to be Mayor, Mr. Weiner, then you need to remember that people will be watching you and that you are held to an even higher standard of behavior than people who are out of the public eye. So, this summer I am delivering the same message to our teens that I am delivering to Anthony Weiner. Think before acting. Consider the repercussions of your behavior. And, for goodness sake, pause before hitting the 'send' button. Once you hit that button, your life and the life of the recipient can be irrevocably changed.
It's funny — or maybe not so funny — how things so similar happen simultaneously and provide us with so many talking points.
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