From Journals to Social Media: Etiquette for Middle School Expression

In middle school, my friends and I had Nothing Journals. We would hold sleep overs and spend all night pasting magazine cut outs of hot actors or zig zag cut 4×6’s of ourselves smiling and laughing at school dances. We hoarded perfect quotes from TV shows, books, movies or each other and painstakingly wrote them in curled fonts around the finished scrapbooked pages. And, thank God, NO ONE SAW THEM BUT US.

I see the Facebook and Twitter posts of teenage girls now and I a) cringe in embarrassment and b) give massive amounts of thanks that social media did not exist when I was navigating myself through the most hormonally horrific period of my life. The insecurities! The self loathing! The inflated egos! All in the same hour! And now, thanks to the luring, come-hither finger of the online baring of souls phenom, the entire Earth can read about it! Yikes and double yikes.

To the girls living out their Nothing Book equivalents online, I would offer these suggestions. Consider them as from an older, wiser sister. Someone who has been there. Someone whose middle school science teacher once called her into the hallway to ask if someone in her family had died because she was bawling like someone HAD died when, in fact, her secret crush had merely been rumored to have found out. Yeah, that happened.

1. Try REALLY hard not to put it all out there emotionally. I get it. I know the feeling of wanting that d-bag of a guy to know how much he hurt you. But the reality of it is that really, if he is that much of a d-bag, he’s not going to change his mind about how awesome you really are and, at the risk of sounding cliched, you can do better. As a general rule, as far as middle and high school guys go, once an ass, always an ass. There may be hope after high school and some of the hormones are in the rear view mirror, but even then… it is a crapshoot. Truth.

2. DO constantly post the pictures of you with your girlfriends. There is something completely irreplaceable about high school BFF’s, even if you lose touch over the years. They are some of my favorite memories. Those pictures make you happy, make you look strong and independent of needing the aforementioned d-bag, and are perfect to look back over on the nights when you feel like you will be alone forever and ever, amen. Do it up, girl!

3. Keep the memes to a minimum if they are negative or depressing. I won’t tell you not to post them at all because I AM A GIRL. I get the craving for passive aggressiveness. But, truth be told, it isn’t a redeeming quality and it makes you look dark and mopey. (Also not redeeming qualities.) Call the girlfriends mentioned in #2 and mope for hours with them. Do that. Not post stuff someone wrote in their own throes of depression (and inevitably misused your and you’re).

4. Keep out the vulgarity. I realize that I am bordering on mom level here as opposed to cool older sister, but seriously. Here’s the thing. That stuff is around somewhere in online outer space forever, even if you delete that crap right after posting it. It just makes you look cheap and you AREN’T cheap. You’re working all of these emotions out that are INTENSE so don’t ever let anyone tell you that it isn’t a big deal because even when you are grown and look back, if you’re honest with yourself, you probably couldn’t have jumped off that emotional roller coaster if you tried. So try to do your best on that road to figuring out who you really are, but keep out the baring of yourself that you may regret in a month or year or more.

I don’t envy you these times. I know how hopped up I was on highs and lows and that was without the constant influx of comments from 24 hours of my peers and utter strangers critiquing me. Or of checking status changes for any sign that the guy I am completely infatuated with is interested in someone who is not…. me. My stomach gets tense just thinking of it. So live it up. I am certainly not one to speak to the perils of social media as I love them all. But also, feel boosted by the women who were your age not so long ago and can reassure you that you can move on from it all. It won’t diminish what you are feeling now, but there is a light at the end of the high school hallway tunnel. So post away, Little Grasshoppers, but keep those posts as a showcase of you and your awesomeness. Save the emotional purging for those fantastic girlfriends. Or an actual, spiral bound, old school Nothing Book.

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