Earlier this summer, while I was on the elliptical machine watching The TODAY Show, Matt Lauer introduced a story about teenagers who post pictures of their friends on social media while they are passed out drunk. Several young people were interviewed sharing how funny they thought it was to do this to their friends. The interviewees felt it was all just harmless fun. The story then took a different direction and went on to discuss the dangers of binge drinking as well as the evils of having your picture posted for the world to see you face down in a pile of puke or sprawled out next to a toilet. The story was disturbing to say the least (probably because, unfortunately, I remember being in such a position on occasion myself as a teenager. Who's with me on being super grateful we grew up before the invention of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?).
Immediately after Matt's report, Natalie Morales launched into her big story of the hour; a behind the scenes look at the upcoming movie, Fifty Shades of Grey. Viewers were warned children should be "shooed from the room" for the next few minutes as the content was not suitable for young ears.
As I am sweating on the machine, watching the show, I begin to think to myself (as Natalie is sharing her stellar journalistic ability), how ironic it is this story is being shown on the heels of a story about how we need to warn our young people about their dangerous, wreckless behavior.
That thought prompted me to ponder all the mixed messages we receive throughout the day...from radio and television, even messages we receive from one another.
For example: Would I have the courage to admit to a bunch of other women talking about the book Fifty Shades of Grey that I would never read the book or see the movie? How would that statement make me look and how much would I care about how they felt regarding my decision? I'd like to think I am confident enough in who I am to be honest with my opinions face-to-face and then be able to withstand the negative commentary which might come as a result of making that statement.
As adults it can be challenging and confusing at times to make decisions about what we allow into our lives, whether it is through the media because we don't want to appear "out of the loop" or too uptight...or even while standing among a group of other adults discussing our family's values or what we have decided our teen's curfew is.
If it is difficult for us at times, imagine how challenging it is for our kids.
Instead of condemning adolescents for what they watch or how they behave, maybe we could concentrate on what we are doing so that our example is one they might desire to emulate. I think we often forget we are in the drivers seat for what they do and see, especially when they are young. Guiding, in a non-threatening manner by role modeling is the best way I can think of to influence our kids to make healthy choices for their own minds and bodies.
As they say, "what goes in is what comes out...".