Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kids, We Need to Talk About the Internet

Thaddeus, Abigael, sit down.  I think we should talk.

Could you put your cell phones down while we talk, please?

No, I'm serious.  Guys, put down the phones.  In fact, turn off the ringers; I want your undivided attention.  Come on, and the notifications too.  Honestly, guys.  Just shove them under a pillow or something and don't look at them.  Five minutes.  That's all I ask.  I promise the resulting twitching will stop eventually.

Where do I even start?  I'm mostly very proud of you two.  You're both starting to grow up to become mature young adults.  I can't wait to support you guys as you try new things, stretch your comfort zones, and hopefully not end up like Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber.  Thaddeus, you just made the football team, which will teach you discipline, the values of teamwork, and what two or three undiagnosed concussions feel like.  Abigael, you've dived head first into your art classes and been involved in a lot of neat stuff.  I'm so proud of your ability to express yourself in such unique ways, even if it will most likely interfere with your ability to pay rent for decades to come.

As the two of you get older, you're both going to be faced with a lot of important choices.  Sometimes you're not going to make the right decisions, but that's okay as long as you learn from your mistakes and it doesn't result in an arrest or a pregnancy.   But with that said, there is one specific thing that I'm worried will get you into serious trouble if you don't act responsibly: the internet.

Thaddeus, put down the phone.  Thank you.

The internet is something that has become as prevalent as female misfortune in a Lifetime movie, and it's going to be easily accessible to both of you.  Your friends are going to be using it, and they might try to pressure you into using it too.  I want you to know that it can actually be applied in a lot of positive ways.  The internet has some medicinal uses and, depending on what type of person you are, it can calm your anxiety with just one puff...y little kitten picture.  But keep in mind, if you expose yourself to enough of the wrong stuff you might become completely paranoid.  What you have to understand is that the majority of the other kids are going to experiment with the internet, and they are likely going to abuse it.  I want to make sure you guys don't abuse it too.

Thaddeus, put down the fucking phone.

The only way to truly keep yourself safe from the internet is to abstain from it all together.  Unfortunately, using the internet isn't as cut and dry as it used to be.  People like to use it in different ways and try new things.  And while a lot of those things are perfectly acceptable uses for a grown adult, some of them also cross the line into depravity.  But what you need to keep in mind, first and foremost, is that what you put on the internet is your responsibility.  Once you post something on the internet, it never goes away.

...The internet is like herpes.

Listen, I know you kids use the Snapchat.  I know the messages you send are supposed to disappear.  I know that you can send dirty pictures that you think will vanish into thin air like a fart in the wind.  But you need to understand that Snapchat is a gateway app.  Eventually you're going to get bored with only getting attention from one person, and you're going to start posting selfies on Instagram and Facebook for everyone to see.  You'll start tweeting every mundane, insignificant detail of your day and the internet is going to help you pretend that someone out there gives a shit.  Eventually, if things get really bad, you might start a blog.  If either of you ever start having thoughts of starting a blog, please come talk to me.  I don't want you guys to reduce yourselves to something like that.  And if either of you ever contemplate Reddit, I want you to get help immediately.  I can't overstate that.

Thaddeus, I swear to God I'm going to show you what your first concussion feels like if you don't put your fucking phone back under that pillow.

Listen, guys.  I know you're young and that you don't have the foresight to think of anything beyond your next orgasm, but this internet thing is really important.  Someday down the road when you're trying to get a job--or even just trying prove to someone that you're not a completely pathetic waste of space--someone is going to Google you and be able to see all of the asinine things you posted on the internet in your lifetime.  And it's not until that moment that you're going to realize, Abigael, that taking a topless photo of yourself with "ART" written on your stomach isn't art.  It's lazy.  Even if you add a sepia filter.

If I had named you two John and Jen, there's a decent chance someone might not be able to find you with an internet search.  But I didn't name you John and Jen, did I?  I named you Thaddeus and Abigael.  And to top it off, our last name is Parlenfunkle.  Just accept that if anyone ever Googles anything close to that, you two are completely fucked.

Alright, guys.  That's enough for now.  Just keep in mind that if you ever have any questions you can always come talk to me.  The internet is one of those things that can really screw up your life if you don't approach it with maturity, responsibility, and humility, so I want you to know that I'm here for you.

Now each of you take a fistful of these condoms; I don't want any impromptu, hormonal humpfests to end in grand kids.

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