Sunday, October 4, 2015

#Being13 in 1978: "It's a Heartache"

The original selfie, Woolworths' photo booth, 1978

What was it like #Being13 in 1978?  A few words come to mind including awkward, unpopular, pimple-faced and theatre-nerd.  But, was it all that bad?

Certainly 13-year-olds today are feeling the same anxiety at not being part of the popular crowd, suffering mockery by the class bully, and exercising their individuality in the face of potential rejection. I know.  I recently raised two 13-year-olds, a daughter and a son (now 16 and 14). 

But, with the advent of the Internet, and our digital kids unprecedented access to influences via the omnipresent smartphone – with selfies, Snapchat and sexting - this generation of 13-year-olds are faced with a whole new array of angst-ridden challenges, including FOMO, “phubbing” (phone snubbing), cyber-bulling and getting enough “likes” on Instagram.  They have grown a new appendage – a constant companion that connects them 24/7 and begs for their attention.  Where we used to put combs in our back pockets, they put phones.  

My memories of #Being13 are more than a bit foggy. Luckily I have two hand-crafted scrapbooks filled with photos that bring me back; all due to my sentimental dad who inspired me to chronicle my life using snapshots, glue and magic markers (and affirmed by Kodak's Times of Your Life commercial, “Do you remember baby, do you remember the times of your life?). The photos are fuzzy and the pages worn, but the memories live on – my first overnight school trip to Washington D.C. and visiting the Capitol, our family vacation to Hershey Park, my sister and I riding the Super Dooper Looper five times and gorging ourselves on chocolate, lots and lots of camp photos, and the National Honor Society Award ceremony (caption reads, “My most embarrassed look!”).