I need to take a break from sugarland today to write about something that I’ve been struggling with for a bit. Instagram. Seems harmless enough – share pictures, get likes, hearts, comments, etc.
Except when you’re twelve, and a girl.
While theoretically Instagram is a great ‘safe’ way for tweens too young for Facebook to share their lives with each other, in reality, it’s just the same as Facebook. It’s fine/fun/cool when your child is included in the posts or events, but when you daughter logs on & sees what event/party/sleepover she was not invited to, all I can say is that it’s heartwrenching for the child & parent alike. To make matters a bit more precarious, I’m not sure how many parents actually partake in Instagram & see what’s happening.
What’s really happening is that kids are exposing themselves, perhaps a bit too much. I’m not talking about exposing their bodies although we all know that happens too. What I mean is that kids are proudly sharing all that they do without necessarily realizing the impact of what they’re doing.
My daughter asked a friend to come over yesterday, but the friend couldn’t come over because she was hanging out with her mother.
Later that evening, my daughter was trolling through Instagram only to see a post by this friend hanging with ‘her peeps’.
Still harmless? I’m not so sure anymore.
The reality is that my daughter’s friendships are changing, and have been changing for quite some time. She has chosen to walk a different path from her ‘group’ from elementary school, so the fact that she wasn’t invited to join these same girls is very understandable.
And yet, it still stings.
To be twelve, or really any age, and read about someone and ‘their peeps’ and to know that you weren’t there or invited to be there can be a hard thing to digest.
What I’ve realized is that it’s all about expectations. For some reason, Emmy (and I) have the expectation that she ‘should’ have been invited. But why? Just because she was once more a part of this group? When I am able to take a step back from it, I can see how absurd that is. Emmy has been increasingly on the outskirts of this group, and made the conscious decision last year that her ‘family’ was at the rink, not at school. More often than not, Emmy consistently chose to be at the rink instead of doing things with her friends at school. Why then should I expect her friends from school to continue to reach out and include her when they do something together? It’s unfair of me to have these expectations.
And yet, I do have that expectation.
I wish I didn’t, and it’s something I need to work on. It’s a hard line to walk for a parent trying to console their daughter as she feels sad, lonely, like a loser.
When I was growing up, I may have felt just as excluded, but it wasn’t public. It wasn’t posted for all to see. It wasn’t announced, it wasn’t ‘liked’ by others, it wasn’t commented on, nor was it there for me to stare at. I may have found out about it in school or on a phone call, but it didn’t linger in the same way that a picture does on Instagram.
I have no words of wisdom to offer. I don’t think Instagram should be banned, nor do I feel differently about Emmy’s school friends. I adore & respect her friends from school and loved seeing them having so much fun before my smile faded when I thought of how this might feel for Emmy. I would never tell Emmy she can’t be on Instagram – that would solve nothing. Perhaps the only suggestion I would make is for parents to join Instagram and to communicate with their children about what’s happening out there in Instagramland.
Onward & upward…