It's funny how two things that you never expect to happen simultaneously do just that -- 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 whether or not there are teen issues that trend across the world.
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 when teens across the world press the send button too quickly and -- oops -- their message gets sent to the wrong person?
In order to get teens to warm up, I started by sharing one of my social media faux pas. It wasn't funny to me then, but it's funny in retrospect, so here goes. When my daughter was in college, I sent (or I thought I sent her) a text message that said "I love you so much sweetheart. XOXO." Well, it turned out that I was a bit too eager to express my sentiment. I sent the message to a man I worked with because he was alphabetically close to my daughter in my texting list, but not in my heart. He and I later had a good laugh about this message, but I have since learned to pause before hitting the send button. You see, I don't want to send out any sentiments that I will later have to retract.
In talking with teens from across the world this week, they informed me that their social media blunders happen most frequently among three groups:
1. They have sent the wrong message to the wrong person. In most cases, they described sending a message intended for a friend to a parent and yep, they ended up in trouble. Is this a case of the unconscious at work or quick fingers or some blend? This question and its answers will have to be explored further.
2. The teens reported sending the wrong picture to the wrong person and being embarrassed. Perhaps, they intended a photo for a boyfriend and it went to a friend or a relative instead? Major oops.
3. An embarrassing photo of them was posted on Facebook. 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 found to be dabbling in sexting long after he promised the public that he had terminated this behavior. He is concerned about how this will affect his current bid for public office.
With all due respect, I suggest that Weiner literally tuck it in, get some help and remember that as an adult and aspiring elected official, he has a responsibility to adults AND their teen kids to act in an impeccable and squeaky clean manner. Look, when you run for public office, you are accountable to more than just your wife. You are also accountable to your constituency, who do not want to teach their teens one thing while at the same time explaining away your out-of-control behavior.
If you want to be Mayor, 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 you act.Think about 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.
Funny or maybe not so funny, really, how things so similar happen simultaneously and provide us with so many talking points.