Imagine for a moment that you are a thirsty little bird. Paint the picture in your mind. Can you see your little bird self? To quench your parched little bird throat, you hop, hop, hop to the nearest water hole. You never consider whether the water is clean, or whether there are bird eaters around. All you know is that you need a drink. After all, who would want to hurt a nice little bird like you?
Even though that river quenches your thirst, it isn’t safe for a nice little bird at all. It’s full of leeches and slime and ugly mud. Yuck! Worst of all, it’s full of crocodiles, just waiting for nice little birds to come for a drink.
Now, think for a moment about social media and all the ways that you use social media to stay connected to your friends or to people you hope will be your friends. Social media quenches your “thirst” to fit in. You often feel “parched” for acceptance, just like a little bird that is dying of thirst for a drink.
Don’t let your “thirst” for acceptance keep you from seeing the crocodiles in the social media swamp. I am not talking about sexual predators, although they are out there. The danger of social media is that it seems okay to do things you would never do anywhere else:
- Send or post a revealing picture
- Talk about sex
- Put your “like” on a picture that is clearly stupid
- Slam someone with a put down
Somehow, in the impersonal muddy waters of social media it seems okay, and more than that, you are so thirsty for that “drink of approval” that you don’t really think about what you are doing. That is, until you realize that there are crocodiles and you’ve gone way farther into the mud than you thought!
Social media is not there just so you can have fun. The people who make social media sites and apps are there to make money. They use kids who want to fit in. They make money by getting you to give up your self-control and your self-respect. They want you to feel anxious about whether you can get enough “likes” or whether you have lots of “friends.” Why?
Distressed kids buy stuff to feel better.
Be a wise little bird. Don’t share anything on social media you wouldn’t want your mother or a favorite teacher to see.