Buckle up - this is a bit of a ride. Join me.
At my daughters National Charity League Debutante Ball I noticed something very disturbing. When the kids finally looked up from their Snapchat feeds and made their way to the dancefloor it was only to take a selfie of them on the dancefloor at the NCL Deb Ball so that they could post it to Snapchat or Instagram or maybe Facebook. Once posted - they were done.
I don't mean done with posting, I mean done with the event. The event lost all interest and meaning once it had been encapsulated into this little picture documenting their presence and posted so everyone knew where they were. Now, it was time to return to their tables and wait for the Likes to come rolling in. Their enjoyment - the importance - the significance - the memory - will all come down to how many of their 986 followers actually take time to like their post. This is sad.
As proactive parents we teach our values and look for opportunities to teach our kids how to navigate peer pressure associated with drugs and sex or cheating. What I never thought of was warning them about the peer pressure of cynicism or celebrity.
When you reduce an important event to an Insta or a Snapchat it is easy to emotionally reduce the importance of the event as well. Everything is small, only holds their interest for a few seconds, is largely disposable and often derided in comments for a few extra likes. This is cynical.
Additionally, they have become 'mini-celebrities' with all the associated cliche issues. They make a post and wait for the likes and views to come rolling in- their self esteem depends on how many people are paying attention to them - their source of happiness is adoration and adulation of strangers. These are strong foundational building blocks for full blown narcissists.
If it was their study of Nietzsche that brought them here I would be disappointed they had chosen such a narrow world view but proud they had at least put thought into it. Such is not the case yet we must draw upon Neitzsche's teachings of perspectivism, historism and psychologism to understand them. It is sad but we must teach them the truth is more than the Snapchat posted, meaning is imbued and beyond the borders of Instagram, our importance is inherent in our creation and our impact measured in lives not likes.