Dear Edward Zuckerberg,
First off I would like to apologise for disturbing you – I know you are probably seeing a multitude of patients in your busy life as a dentist. It’s a good thing your wife is a retired psychiatrist and at the ready to handle any problems at home should they arise (although, given your three children are all grown up you’re probably okay on the home front).
I think many people would be curious to know how a dentist who grew up in New York City raised the creator of the world’s most popular social media platform. I too share this curiosity however I feel more compelled to express my sincere gratitude to you for conceiving your son in the 1983 rather than five years earlier. Had you done so I would have gone through adolescence with the insidious presence of social media leeching into every aspect of my life and I’m not sure I would have survived.
Like most teenagers I displayed a stunning lack of judgment on a frequent basis but luckily for me those hapless exploits are not immortalised on the internet. Which is more than I can say for young people today.
Let me explain. I was mindlessly scrolling though social media before bed one evening (incidentally, an activity that has proven to elevate anxiety levels, especially in teenagers) when I came across a very disturbing photo. It was of my next-door neighbor, a 16 year old girl whom I’ve become very fond, almost protective, of. In the photo, she had most of her breast exposed, so much that I was a little surprised it passed Facebook’s guidelines for this kind of content.
A car crash of emotions exploded in my head. Like, why weren’t this girl’s parents policing her social media habits? When she eventually goes for a job is her potential employer going to knock her back on the basis of boob exposure on Facebook? And, overwhelmingly, THANK GOD ADOLESCENCE WAS BEHIND ME WHEN I CREATED A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT.
Going through adolescence is a trying experience without the presence of social media adding to the ever growing list of why it must be hard to be a teenager today. A recent study conducted by Glasgow University showed teenage girls are far more likely to experience stress than teenage boys and turn to social media to alleviate these feelings of anxiety. So, instead of crawling into bed after cramming in a full day of school, study and general teenage angst, girls are logging onto to a dizzying range of social media platforms to try and distract themselves from impending exam marks or arguments with friends.
Yet, unfortunately, it’s not working. This social media platform your son created has introduced a bunch of fiascoes waiting to happen. Teenagers are documenting every aspect of their lives without the wisdom that comes with age to know these actions might come back to haunt them. And they are returning to their lives feeling just as anxious as they did before they logged on. I know my anxiety spiked when my Facebook feed showed me a 16 year old girl’s breast.
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Mr Zuckerberg, you have raised three children so you most likely know that teenagers are not born wise. They screw up, sometimes daily. And you know what? They should be allowed to do so. Getting into trouble and learning from your mistakes is all part of growing up. They should also be allowed to forget about them. I ran into an old ‘friend’ from high school recently who was kind enough to remind me of the time I stripped down to my bra and undies and demonstrated my sexy dance to a bunch of my friends. Had it not been for a chance encounter with this person I would have forgotten all about that incident, which is exactly where that memory belongs, in the abyss of forgotten memories. However, had I enacted this performance now as a teenager, somehow, somewhere, that dance would have appeared on social media, maybe even Facebook.
So, again, thank you, from the bottom of my churning stomach, for conceiving Mark Zuckerberg in the 1980s. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go have a stern chat with a young woman.
Click through the gallery below for people who have been made into memes.