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I started this blog as I entered my 40th year, and now firmly in my 40s, I continue to learn so much about life. I'm learning that life rarely goes according to plan and that there's something new to learn every single day, be it a subtle nudge or a smack in the face.... This is my blog about muddling through my 40s-working hard, writing a book, being an ammateur photographer, trying to exercise and eat well, endeavouring to be the world's best aunt, as well as having fun and laughing out loud every single day.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#33 The Curse of Social Media

Lately, I've been driving past a man, who used to be a boy who went to my primary school.  I'm pretty sure his name is Wayne.

Wayne wasn't like all the other kids.  He was very quiet and shy and didn't have many friends.  He was also a little over weight and wore less fashionable clothes.  Wayne was a couple of years older than me.

My main memory of Wayne was on the last day of school - his last day of Grade 6.  The teachers were handing out icy poles and Wayne refused to take one.  Mr Reiners said, "It's just frozen water Wayne, you can have one." but still he refused.  Instead, he ran laps around the oval.  He'd been losing weight.

Wayne had already figured out that High School would eat him alive, so he tried his hardest to reduce the reasons the other kids would have to pick on him for.

I didn't see him again after that day, until recently - a thousand years later.  He clearly survived High School and is still walking regularly.  Maybe that means he doesn't drive a car.  I wonder if he works.  His clothes are still a little out of date.  I hope he has some friends.

We didn't even get a telephone in our house until I was at high school.  Even then, it was in the kitchen, with a short cord.  Mum and Dad could hear every word and phone calls were only allowed between certain times.  If we hadn't arranged to see friends on the weekend or school holidays, we literally had no contact with them.

Kids these days are in contact 24/7.  It's scary to consider.  Through Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Kick and who knows what else, they know what one another are doing ALL THE TIME.  They are acutely aware when they are excluded from a party or other weekend activity.  If someone wants to be mean, they have so many options for how to go about it. 

Photos are taken without permission and shared relentlessly.  They don't understand the permanence of what they're doing or the potential risks they face when they are deciding who they can trust.  Some of them are literally becoming distributors of pornography.  Can you even imagine?

In a way I am relieved for Wayne.  At least he had a reprieve, in the safety of his own home once the horrors of his school day ended.

Some kids today don't have anywhere to go that is safe from those who taunt them.

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