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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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No more privacy for fools

Sunday, November 4, 2012

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor

Looking over the differences in their generation and ours, what do teenagers today face that you are grateful you never had to deal with?

What causes shudders for me and my best friend, Kim, is the internet.

There are two things to be afraid of regarding teenagers and the internet: What they see on there, and what they put on there.

Kim and I compared what kids put on the internet now with how we communicated when we were teens.

We spent every possible moment together. When we couldn’t, notes took the place of personal contact. If we were teenagers today, would our means of connection be foolishly public social media comments?

After each class period (sorry, teachers), each would hand the other a four-page note. Those few Saturdays and Sundays apart resulted in 25 pages or more. (Kim didn’t have a phone. Remember those days — when lots of people didn’t even have phones?)

My favorite Bible has some significant bulletins tucked between its pages, a beautiful crocheted cross-shape bookmark made by a dear lady who died 30 years ago — and an assortment of the tiny notes Kim and I passed between us during preaching.

A while back we were talking about text messaging. “It’s too bad we didn’t have that when we were teenagers,” one of us said.

“Yeah, we would have been texting (sorry, God — but you know how teenagers are) all during church. It would have been easier than passing those notes!” the other replied.

Then we both looked at each other in that serious way, with head tilted down and eyes peering over the tops of our glasses, and proclaimed in unison: “Oh! Thank godoness they didn’t have Internet when we were teenagers! We would have made fools of ourselves!”

Can you still remember acting idiotically as a teenager? Boy, we sure do. It was enough that our families, classmates and church family witnessed it. Can you imagine your foolishness being on public display on Facebook, Youtube and who knows what else?

Private text messages would not be so bad as viewed-by-all profiles and postings. Still, things meant to be private often find themselves in the public eye. I still shudder at the shame of when my seventh-grade math teacher, Mr. Chavez, found one of my notes and posted it on the bulletin board for all to see.

It seemed like that would kill me back then. In comparison with now, what if it had been forwarded text messages?

A large part of being a teenager is trying out different personalities. It’s a time to experiment with tastes in clothing, music and activities — both in terms of what a person actually enjoys, and how a person wants others to see him or her.

The thing about the internet is you can’t discard personas so easily. What’s posted once remains forever, in a very public playground. You can’t so easily shake off a style you no longer want when it’s posted on everyone else’s social media site wall. When a teenagers feels like she’s grown or matured, everyone else will still see her earlier self.

It’s a cruel place, too, where in complete privacy (not having to face up to the reactions of others) people can make fun of others.

Life in the 1980s seemed pretty wild at times. After all, it was the birth of MTV and music videos, and cable TV with racy movies.

Now, though, in 2012, Kim and I look back in relief at the relative innocence we had. Thank goodness, we say, we just made fools of ourselves to each other. Not, because of the Internet, to the whole world.


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