School drop-off in modern times is a bit of a marvel. To a substantial degree, parents from the 20th century wouldn’t recognize it. Think about it. So many fathers leaving their kids at the front door, or inside the classroom. Better yet, so many parents participating in drop-off together.
This isn’t how it used to be, and readers know why. Or they should. In the days before 24-hour connectivity care of the Internet, work took place at a specific location. In my case, while I never saw my father on weekday mornings in the 1970s and 80s, my kids see me every weekday morning right up to school drop-off. And this in no way makes me unique.
It was impossible not to think of modern parental realities while reading about the obnoxious grilling that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other prominent technology types suffered at the hands of grandstanding politicians (a redundancy, no doubt) the other day. Take Sen. Lindsey Graham. According to the ankle-biter from South Carolina, Zuckerberg and others “have blood” on their hands. It’s probably too late for the 68-year old in Graham, but he needs to grow up.
What is the source of the angst manufactured by Graham and his fellow political alarmists (yet another redundancy) including Sens. Josh Hawley and Richard Durbin? They’re tying sexual exploitation, suicide, and all manner of other youthful societal maladies to the proliferation of “social media.”
That’s right, before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and myriad other fruits of technological advance, young people were well-adjusted, healthy, and happy owing to life bereft of internet. Oh boy, weren’t the good old days great?
Those of us who entered our teen years in the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s surely never had friends who were sent into drug and alcohol rehab, never experienced sexual exploitation or heard about it (it turns out NBC’s To Catch a Predator was just fiction!), never were exposed to or thought about suicide, and surely never had cross words with our parents. Ok, maybe the latter was true, but mainly because in the days before constant connectivity care of the internet and manifestations of same, more than a few of us rarely saw our parents as is.
Seriously, what the parents of old would give for today’s problems! Kids spending lots of time on Facebook, Instagram and other popular social media sites. How very quaint considering the fears of old. In my day Angel Dust and cocaine kept parents up at night, as did television movies like Fallen Angel meant to terrify always-at-the-office parents about sexual predators who were seemingly not at the office when they were. But wait, social media and the endless stream of photos on Facebook and the rest body shame the youth of today on the way to bulimia and anorexia nervosa! Except that we had those fears too. Think 1981, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Best Little Girl In the World. Also, wasn’t recently collapsed Sports Illustrated the annual whipping boy of old on the matter of body-shaming, bulimia, and countless other psychological problems of the body kind thanks to its swimsuit issue?
Seemingly lost on the perpetually alarmed and offended is that teen angst has been around as long as teenagers have been, meaning forever. From there, hopefully the reasonable among us can acknowledge that as opposed to being the problem for teens and young people, Facebook and others are the solution.
Again, what parents of old would have given for the worries of today whereby interest in smartphones and the countless apps on same means that parents can not only regulate to varying degrees what their kids are seeing and doing, they also know where their kids are as they’re tapping away. This was a luxury parents of old didn’t have, among many others.
Which brings us back to school drop-off. Thanks to the internet-authored connectivity that more and more enables remote work in concert with global marketing plans hatched on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok from homes masquerading as corporate headquarters, more and more parents are capable of closely looking after their kids at all hours as a way of protecting them from the endless threats that parents formerly couldn’t police from their actual offices. Yes, rather than attacking Mark Zuckerberg and colleagues, parents and hapless politicians should be thanking them.
Republished from RealClear Markets