Generation Selfie and the Disappearing Layers of Protection

Generation Selfie, for all intents and purposes, has raised itself. The 24/7 availability of “sage” advice from peers is what informed this generation. It is Lord of the Flies via Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. Whatevah.

Our children are under the misguided assumption that he who controls information, controls the situation. They live in the reality of the inexperienced leading the guileless and worse yet, the faceless creeper leading the gullible.

Growing up as a Baby Boomer, we had two phones in our house, all hardwired. Cell phones were merely a concept and/or something used at NASA. Therefore, a hierarchy existed within the house.

Since my parents paid the phone bill, they answered the phone and were always aware of who called. If some ill-mannered minion dared to call after 10 p.m., the caller was met with, “This better be an emergency. Who is this?”

The phone bill was a monthly reading of the long distance infractions, which always resulted in a loss of phone privileges. There was a front line of parental overlording, a layer of watchfulness, thank God.

We spent maybe 10 minutes on the telephone line because of the crazy poses we were forced to assume, usually on the most uncomfortable “phone chairs” with a sadistically short cord. It was barely enough to accommodate any semblance of privacy. This was all intentional.

When I turned 16, I was permitted a phone in my room. But my mother still picked up the other extension periodically to tell me I had been on too long (because we all shared the phone…oh the horror!) and to find out who was on the other line. She also picked up the phone to be sure I actually hung up.

The parents were in charge, as it should be — the first layer of defense against the madness.

Too often, we see the confused look of a Generation Selfie parent on the news, shocked that his or her child was arrested after plotting a massacre, building a bomb, committing suicide or hacking into the Pentagon. Where were the layers ?

The layers have been replaced by Wi-Fi.

Today, our kids have access to the world — whenever and wherever they want and with whomever. They listen to each other and trust the internet more than they trust their own families. They don’t question the identity of that guy on Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram who likes their taste in shoes. Why does he want to be their friend when he doesn’t even know them, let alone speak English…and is he really a guy?

They friend strangers without discernment; they are like crows, landing on any shiny thing.

They sleep with their phones in their beds, they “FaceTime” during “homework,” they text while watching movies, and they check their phones every 9 seconds. We wonder why they can’t focus on anything.

Have you ever noticed that a real face-to-face conversation with a member of Generation Selfie that lasts longer than a minute has them glancing sideways and tapping their feet, because this has gone on WAAAY too long?

Our children counsel themselves without the benefit of real-life experience. If it’s on the internet, it is the final word. If 200 kids have “liked” it or “retweeted” it, it must be valid.

They live in the world of a non-vetted news cycle that is shorter than the lifespan of the average fruit fly.

Meanwhile, cyberbullying is beyond the school bullies we dealt with in our youth. It’s not over and done with a fist fight behind Spike’s garage — it’s a cruel continuum of psychological torture 24/7 with strangers joining in.

Access has also changed relationships between young people. They are in touch 24/7/365. Where is the breathing room? The constant surveillance of each other’s movement throughout the day has created a new type of stalker romance.

And the access to porn? Well, what young boys witness today is a world of difference from the soft-focused nudes of yesterday’s Playboy. Degradation and violence are the new norm.

When adults try to interject, they assess us by the technology we hold in our hands. If it’s the latest smartphone, they may give us a minute. If we exhibit some technical prowess, we get two minutes. The fact that we have lived almost into our 60s and have faced life, death, illness, success, failure, love, and loss (not to mention we taught them how to walk and eat with a spoon) has no gravitas, no sway, no way.

The bottom line: These are the very people who care for them and don’t flame or disparage them online. These are the people who are possibly the last generation that understands privacy and common courtesy.

Speaking directly to Generation Selfie: We won’t tell you to “go kill yourself” or call you “a slut” or post a video of you drunk and being touched by the basketball team. We won’t pass around that naked photo, but those “friends or followers” you have amassed, will.

You need our layers. We are the front line of sound advice, sincere encouragement, and kindness, and we are the last generation who knew life before the smartphone.

We are the disappearing layer of decency and conscience.

There is a reason the apple was chosen as the symbol for Apple Computers. Look it up, better yet, check out the book of Genesis. We have taken the bite, and we spit out the rules in the process.

We dropped the layers, and exposed the core.