I got a notification this weekend that a 13-year-old is following me on Twitter. I'm honored, but also a little surprised. My first thought was: "Isn't 13 like 6th grade? What does one even do in 6th grade that they want the Internet to know about?" My second thought was: "Holy shit I'm so happy I didn't have access to Twitter (or Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or the ability to text photos) until my last year of college" because what a train wreck that would have been. And that was 7 years ago. Before the age of cyber bullying and dick pics. I understand there can be some value to it, if supervised and correctly executed, but I am beyond grateful my growing up isn't documented online.
Thank you, Internet for not allowing a young me access for the following reasons:
I haven't always looked like this. That sounds incredibly narcissistic, but it's the truth. Just like it is for everyone comparing their young self with their adult self. When I was 13 and in middle school, I had no curves, I was incredibly pale with braces and some strange obsession with cutting my own hair. Since I don't have any training in cosmetology, I would never get the sides even, so I'd end up with uneven, unnecessarily short hair. No one wants to see any of that. In high school, I had an affinity for acrylic nails, hair gel and the tanning bed. That's really all I'm willing to share about my "style" at that stage. In college, my tanning obsession reached a new level when I found out I could pay $10 to have someone spray a tan on me, and my wardrobe consisted of clothes to wear to class (Uggs and leggings) and clothes to wear to the bar (both to bartend and to play). Imagine those former post-spray tan profile pictures with a filter. Whoa.
I didn't know who the hell I was. Looking back at what I did post when I joined Facebook and even 2 years later when I first joined Twitter. It was horribly stupid, and very clearly written by someone in their early twenties. Can you say "random capital letters in the middle of a word?" Not that what I share now is rocket science, but at least the voice is established, consistent and well, pretty fucking funny. And emoji-less.
Dating from 18 to 22 was hard enough. Like many young bucks, my first serious boyfriend and I were super intense. Like, I wore a "promise ring" that he gave me for my 19th birthday after reading me a four page handwritten letter about our eternal love. During the several years that we dated long distance, we spent our weeks on the phone for 32 hours a day and our weekends driving to see one another. At one point, this was a 7 hour drive (unlike most numbers I use, this isn't an exaggeration). See: Intense. If we'd have had social media or text messaging during this relationship, I would probably still be working for my undergrad degree. It also taught me how to actually communicate with a lover, since we were forced to talk about our lives on the phone or in person. When I was 22, I was dating a person that I spent all of my time with, so social media wasn't all that dangerous. And all of the men I've had a relationship with post-22 I am still friends with, so their social media presence is something I enjoy. Kinda.
Googling myself didn't mean the same thing. Everything you put on the Internet can be found. I'm very clearly okay with that at this point, but I'm glad photos of my awkward years can only be found at my parents' house or in the shoeboxes underneath my closest friends' beds.
When I was writing this, I asked one of my BFF's if we were able to text when I was dating the college boyfriend because I couldn't remember (he just, like, this weekend had a baby with his new wife, so asking him feels like it would be silly right now). Here was her response:
"We did. But they were super short notes because you had to push the number button like 3 times to get to the letter you needed, so it was a pain in the ass. Also, your phone only stored 10 texts at a time, so you would never be able to find an old phone & go through old text conversations (which is likely for the better). It should be illegal to document anything between the ages of 13 & 25. Just let people make their poor decisions in peace." Amen.