Colleagues, friends and I have been wondering what has been causing so many teens to turn to suicide lately. People ask why teens have such a harder time dealing with bullying these days when bullying is not something new. We theorized that it has something to do with texting and Facebook, and how there is no break from the gossip. Technology keeps all of the drama right in their faces, 24/7. Today I had an ah-ha moment that gave me some clarity on the subject.
Remember landline phones and busy signals? Remember having to pull over to a pay phone to call someone if you were on the road? Remember paper maps??? And when you went home from work (or school) you didn’t reconnect until the next day. Today, I have the “convenience” that my work voicemail will call my cell phone the minute I get a message. I save money on business cards because I can text people their appointments, and they can communicate with me through text to make appointments. So convenient right?
Yesterday I chatted with a teen who has gotten in big trouble at school for using his phone during class. We talked about being impulsive because he has ADHD, and he said “Yeah! I get a text and I cannot wait to see what it says! I can’t stop myself!” Two seconds later his mom and I said “Me too!” (And we’re not ADHD.) Getting an email or a text immediately at my phone feels like the old days of getting a letter in the mail. So exciting! Oh look, a package! So where’s the downside?
There’s no escape. There’s no relief. There’s no break. There’s no downtime. I realized this today when I was taking a day off, and my phone kept beeping. I felt pressured to respond, and had to remind myself that I was not on duty. But people on the other end didn’t know that so they kept messaging. Ahhhh! Turn it off!
I recently went to dinner with family and my sister-in-law said everyone had to put their cell phones in the middle of the table and whomever picked their beeping phone up first had to pay for dinner! Funny! But not so funny. What? I can’t check my phone? What will I do?
If I were a teenager in the middle of high school drama, and every time I checked my phone or the computer it was something negative or harassing, I’d never feel better. I’d never feel like I could escape from it. To be an adult and not feel like I can turn off the job, to be a teen and not feel like I can turn off the hate… can be overwhelming.
Convenient is not always better. Who woulda thunk it.