Tag Archives: Twitter

Ariana Grande

Changing the script

Before my child was born, I attended a women’s retreat with my mother.  During our reflections, I admitted that I wanted to have a daughter so that I could teach her to be strong, independent and able to defend herself against any and all forms of misogyny.  The facilitator looked me in the eye and asked, why not wish for a boy so you could teach him not to be a misogynist?

It’s an important question.  So often we think of what we can do to teach women not to be victims or at least empowered enough to fight in the face of violence.  There are seminars offered at universities that teach women how not to become victims of sexual violence.  We teach girls how to keep an eye on their drinks at parties, to be aware of their surroundings, to avoid certain places and situations.  We arm girls with tools throughout their lives and yet #metoo.

The world was watching Aretha Franklin’s funeral.  When Ariana Grande took the stage, Bill Clinton enjoyed the performance from behind.  Afterward, Pastor Charles Ellis III called Ariana back onto the stage, wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close.  The pastor later apologized for being ‘too friendly’.  Still, the photos remain a catalyst for conversation.

The reality is that most women have experienced this very situation.  We know what it is like to be in public and feel like some man has held us too close and in a way that has us walking away feeling uncomfortable, questioning what has just happened, wanting to say something but expecting that it would be pointless.  Should we teach our daughters that this is the reality, men don’t typically mean anything by it, just let it go?  Or, is there another possibility?

Among the many tweets #RespectAriana about this moment are comments that affirm the length of a dress does not indicate an invitation.  There are messages confirming that Ariana’s body language clearly showed discomfort.  There are statements that say having your wallet open does not mean anyone can take money from it.

Conversations about women’s bodies are shifting, highlighting that we can’t simply rely on women to protect themselves, rather we need to teach men that women are not objects for their consumption.  Imagine what might happen if parents and teachers used the photo of Ariana Grande and the Pastor to teach boys that when they see that look, when women appear to be wanting to move away – that is a clear signal! They have crossed the line! LET GO!

We need to teach boys the importance of respecting women.  We need to teach boys to take responsibility for the ways they view and treat women.  We need to help boys and men recognise that they have the ability to be allies to women, helping other men recognise the ways in which social expectations about gender continue to undermine the agency of women and perpetuate the belief that women are objects for men to enjoy.  We need to teach boys and men to not rape and/or sexually assault women.

#metoo has helped to bring to light the many ways in which women suffer the consequences of a culture which reinforces norms where male sexuality contributes to perceptions of masculinity.  Parents and teachers can use these tools to help provide an alternative script for relationships.  It is an important opportunity.  How has this been used in your experiences at home and at school?  Do you see a shift happening?  To what extent have you participated in these kinds of conversations?  Let’s talk.  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Screen Time

Fun fact: there were a couple of years when our television mysteriously ‘broke’ during summer and my parents were ‘too busy’ working to get it fixed.  In reality, my parents had simply cut power to the television in an effort to ensure that we would not spend our summer in front of it. 

Unplugging today

As a parent, I didn’t have the opportunity to ‘pull the plug’ on television in the same way.  While we have only ever had one television set in our home, we have accumulated computers, a tablet and cell phones.  The number of screen options has grown exponentially over the years making it very difficult to surreptitiously eliminate the possibility of screen time.

That being said, following the pediatric guidelines we did try to minimise screen time while our child was young.  We have also taken a technology-free vacation where only one cell phone was allowed for emergency purposes.  This led to a particularly wacky weekend where board games had us laughing uncontrollably.

The reality of Screen time

With a cell phone and computer readily available, our teenager spends a lot of time in front of a screen.  During the school year, (as I wrote about here) we recognise that technology is a vital tool for research and development of projects and notes.  I know from my own experience that a fair bit of my work is spent on the computer – researching, writing, connecting with people and so on.  We would not want to get in the way of our teenager developing the necessary skills to use technology.

The challenge of summer

Summer, however, provides a time away from the rigours associated with school and thus the use of technology changes.  For our teen, some time is spent reading and being creative on Wattpad or writing music with MuseScore activities which we think should be encouraged.  We also know there are social media accounts to review including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.  We seek balance in the process but recognise that there is still work to do, including regarding the importance of validation via impersonal social media accounts.

Modelling balance

Balance is encouraged when it is also modeled by other members of the family.  Parents who are overly focused on technology and zone out while watching television or working on the computer, validate these actions for their children.  Banning technology during meals and at other meaningful opportunities can create space from which interpersonal interactions can take place reinforcing these skills as well.  This doesn’t require a special pepper mill to do so, but does need a commitment from family members to use this time together for conversation.

What do you do?

So then, how does it work at your house?  Do you place limits on technology and screen time for your children?  How do you balance positive use with potentially problematic usage?  What advice would you give to others in regards to the use of technology in youth?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual

Finding Hope on Social Media

This past weekend, we celebrated Father’s Day.  This is our opportunity to give thanks to the men in our lives who make a difference.  While there were BBQs and gifts, dad jokes and beer in some homes, there were also places where celebration was hard.  Not everyone is blessed to have a good relationship with their fathers.  Not everyone has a father who is still with them.  Some fathers continue to mourn the loss of their child.

A not so happy Father’s Day

This morning I saw re-tweets shared by my teenager from Fred Guttenburg (@fred_guttenburg):

‘Dear America, Today I will begin Father’s Day by going to the cemetery to visit my forever 14 year old daughter Jaime.  It is over 4 months since she was murdered at school.  Today, I am too sad to focus on myself and so no need for Father’s Day messages for me.  Instead…everyone please post or tweet a very simple message that simply say’s “I commit to vote orange in November #OrangeWaveInNovember”’

Following the trends

More and more, I am acutely aware of the reality that young people can be inundated by social media trends and information which doesn’t paint a very good picture of this world.  How do you find good in the words of a father who mourns the loss of his child from a senseless school shooting?  What is hopeful about the Twitter trends: #IfIDieInASchoolShooting (which I previously discussed here) or #WhereAreTheChildren (which protests children being taken from those who are coming into the US looking for a brighter future).

Our teenagers have access to information, conversations and media which makes it painfully clear that world is not fair and robs them of the innocence that had been previously associated with being young.  Young people should bask in the knowledge that they have their whole lives ahead of them and yet, they are seeing too many examples of how this is not true or that what is ahead will not be overly amazing.

Looking Deeper

While these trends may be heartbreaking, it is important to continually dig deeper, to recognise that social media has given a space for voices to be heard – not solely the voices of the powerful but also those voices which could otherwise be easily silenced.  Through social media Fred Guttenburg has the space to encourage others to use the tools available to them to make meaningful change.  Through social media David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and others are able to rally students to #MarchForOurLives.  Through social media we have heard women cry out #MeToo and #TimesUp.  Through social media we have heard the rallying cry #BlackLivesMatter and shown support for those grieving as we #PutYourSticksOut.

Navigating the Trends with our teenagers

Social media trends can feel overwhelming.  Compounding this problem for parents is that the medium can also feel new and foreign for us.  Still, it remains important for us to be aware of the kinds of information and stories to which our children have access through their various social media accounts.  Open conversation can create space to help all of us confront the anxieties of living in 2018 and open our hearts to hope for what is to come.

What do you do?

In our efforts to support our children through the images, conversations and uncertainty highlight by so many social media trends, what do you do?  Do you follow your children/teenagers on their social media accounts?  How do talk with your teenagers about what they are seeing on social media?  Where do you find hope?  How do keep from feeling overwhelmed by the content and/or the medium?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/ and Follow us on Twitter @ThriveFamilies.

Twitter Trends

#IfIdieInASchoolShooting

I have to admit, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of tweeting yet.  Still, I have added @Thrivefamilies to the twitterverse because I know that this is where we can connect to teenagers and I expect my teen to help with this process.

One of the other reasons I have included Twitter as part of our social media presence is to monitor what is trending.  Via Twitter, it is possible for us to get a glimpse into the thoughts, struggles and hopes of teenagers.  To that end, my teenager asked me if I had noticed a hashtag that had grown in popularity this past weekend #IfIdieInASchoolShooting.

Using the Search…

For those who haven’t used Twitter, you can set your preferences to identify the most popular trends for a particular target area.  I focus on Canada.  It would seem my teen has a wider view and so, this morning I entered #IfIdieInASchoolShooting in the search.  The results made my heart break:

  • #IfIdieInASchoolShooting or any shooting, I want to be buried next to my brother.
  • #IfIdieInASchoolShooting I will be just one of the many kids who’s (sic) life meant nothing to our lawmakers. Just another statistic.
  • We, teenagers, are tweeting using #IfIdieInASchoolShooting. The saddest part about it? We have already had these thoughts – have already wondered if it will be our school next, what we will do if it happens to us, and how our community will (or will not) respond.

Why does it matter?

We live in Canada where gun control is far stricter than the US.  The odds of our teenagers falling victim to a school shooting is far lower than their American peers.  Still, they are watching members of their generation who, instead of feeling young and invincible, are genuinely concerned about the possibility of being gunned down at school.

We can tell our kids they are safe.  But they know that already.  What they are seeing is a world where life isn’t fair.  Where innocence is lost.  Where governments fail to protect.  Where big business is more important than lives.  They are witnesses to a symptom that the world is not as wonderful as the song claims it should be.

What can families do?

If our teenagers are following these trends, parents need to be courageous in our response.  We need to listen to their concerns and be honest about what is possible, what we can do to protect ourselves and support the efforts of their American peers to protect themselves.

While it is unlikely to happen here, it matters to some teens that it happens and that makes it worth discussing.  Conversation is always important, as is a willingness to support efforts our teenagers offer to advocate on behalf of those they see as vulnerable.  Our teenagers are reading #IfIdieInASchoolShooting.  It is up to us to engage them further so that they can find hope in the midst of a sad situation.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/