Note: I'm sure this rant is extremely biased. I've been told I don't think like the rest of the world. This is merely my opinion. If you do not agree with it, that is perfectly fine. If it offends you in some way, I really am sorry. This is how I feel and this is what I think. I am not asking for your agreement, praise, critique, or biting comments. I do hope there is one thing we can agree on though, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and this happens to be mine.
Can someone please explain to me when the age group of eleven to fifteen became so completely inappropriate? If you do not interact with kids this age on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. Let me give you some perspective.
When I was in the sixth grade (ages 11-12 for those math challenged people like me out there), kids weren't very nice. Mind you, I went to private school in the next town over from where I lived. The people were richer. Houses were bigger, cars were more expensive, and the kids were more spoiled. I assumed the bullying and the entitlement stemmed from the area where the school was located and the demographic of the students. The girls were horrific, even at age 11. They shopped at Hollister, Limited Too (which I guess now is Justice) and Abercrombie, walked around with Louis Vuitton purses, and had cell phones with unlimited texting (remember, this was several years ago before iPhones and other smartphones became popular and at that time unlimited texting was the equivalent of having an iPhone with a bunch of apps on it now). Everyone had Myspace profiles and AIM. They watched MTV and listened to rap music and I, like every sixth grade girl that just wanted to fit in, envied those girls.
I, however, did not come from a rich family (don't take this as a complaint because I am far from complaining, I'm just showing a comparison of the life I lived versus the demographic I went to school with). We lived in a split level house, my dad drove a Ford and my mom drove an Oldsmobile and then a Hyundai. The only reason I was in private school was because I had a bad experience in Kindergarten in the public school in my district. The majority of my clothes came from Kohl's and Walmart with the occasional splurge at Limited Too. I did have a cell phone, but it was an AT&T Go Phone that did NOT have unlimited texting, and I only had it because my coach (along with the rest of my teammates and their parents) left me alone after basketball practice twice in one month when my parents were running around doing things for my grandfather who was sick. My mother caved and bought the phone for Christmas of my sixth grade year, not so I could be like everyone else, but because she wanted to be able to get ahold of me and wanted me to be able to get ahold of her if that situation ever arose again (it did, but only once more).
I was far different that the majority of girls in my class as far as my attitude, my clothing, and apparently my morals as well. These girls were merciless bullies and I was the Target. There were three other girls that were bullied but they never stood up for themselves, I tried to stand up for myself. When faced with a bully you're always told if you stand up to them they'll feel like they lost power and they'll leave you alone. This must only work for physically abusive bullies or guy bullies because these girls didn't back off. If anything they became worse because they wanted to try to break me, which they did (multiple times) but I never gave in to them and I can look back on the whole situation and know I did everything I could to stand up for myself without stooping to their level. It was as if these girls were out to get anyone with a sense of morality because they turned on another girl who was supposedly their friend (who I am still good friends with to this day) because she decided she had had enough of their crap and was nice to me.
Like I said, these girls were mean and would mock everything from your hair to your clothes (Yes, we went to private school and yes we had uniforms. They found ways to mock uniforms; if your skirt wasn't short enough, if you didn't have the right kind of shirt or shoes, and dress down days felt like walking into the early part of a 'What Not to Wear' episode). They would attack your weight, your choice of backpack, school supplies, even what you had for lunch. One thing I can say though, for all their torment, none of those girls ever called me a swear word, at least not to my face. Even the things people told me they said behind my back, curse words were never mentioned.
That comment is the perfect place to transition back to the present. Since the beginning of time there have always been bullies because there has always been comparisons and judgement among people. It's a part of life and I can almost guarantee that everyone was bullied at least once during their time in middle school. It happens. However, I think the behavior and bullying in kids ages 11-15 now is even worse than when I was that age (which really wasn't all that long ago).
My mom is a teacher. She teaches technology at a private elementary/middle school in our area which is the same school I attended for seventh and eighth grade. This is a different elementary school than the one I went to for first through sixth grade. We moved and I switched schools after sixth grade. The bullying was not the reason we left, but it sure didn't make me fight too hard to stay where we were. I went to a different private school for seventh and eighth grade and the atmosphere at that school and in my new class was so much different. For the most part, everyone got along in my new class. Sure, there was a noticeable popular crowd, but they weren't popular because they shopped in certain stores and bullied their way to the top. These girls were popular a.) because they were the prettiest and b.) because they were smart and athletic as well. These popular girls, however, were nice to EVERYONE. I got along with them, even through high school and I'm still somewhat friends with one of them.
Sure, the boys teased some of the girls about their weight or called them stupid nicknames (nicknames like Crusty, are things you don't really forget) but somehow it never felt malicious the way it did at the other school. Yeah, a couple of the guys would call you a stupid name or say something dumb and forty minutes later in the next class, they're elbowing you and cracking jokes about someone else. It was playful, not malicious and it was all out in the open. There was none of the "whisper behind your hand and point at who you're talking about and pretend you're not talking about them" crap. Any joke, crack, or comment you said about someone was at top volume, usually shouted across the classroom before class actually started and you would respond back with an eye roll and a crack of your own and that was the extent of the conversation. The atmosphere and student interaction was much different here.
I always thought the region where you went to school had something to do with the personalities and interactions of the kids, but it seems like kids in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades now are just terrible. They're nasty to one another, they're nasty to their parents, and they're nasty to their teachers. Last year my mom was a seventh grade homeroom teacher as well as a technology and religion teacher. There were days she came home in tears because of how awful the kids were but most days she just came home mad about their blatant disrespect for everyone around them. She said there wasn't a day last school year where she didn't have to scream at someone in her seventh grade class, all but two of them were suspended by the end of the year, and she sent at least one student to the principal's office every day (the average for a normal day was about 4 students).
I'm not sure what the real problem is and why so many kids seem to have behavioral issues. I know one thing though, social media and abundant access to the internet does not help matters, especially not in the bullying department. Most of these kids now have iPhones, or at least iPod Touch devices that can access the internet and social media with the push of a button (and wifi connection). I would like to point out that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all state in their terms and conditions that you must be thirteen or older to sign up for an account. I'm aware that no one reads the terms and conditions, I sure don't, but if you're any younger than thirteen, you don't need a social media account and you most definitely don't need three. Personally I don't think anyone should have social media until high school but that's just me.
Maybe I'm biased. I was not allowed to have a myspace account in the sixth grade when that was popular. I wasn't allowed to have an AIM account until I was in seventh grade and even then my mother had to approve who I added to my contact list. Until I was in eighth grade I was being supervised on the internet; I was allotted a certain amount of time to be on the internet and I had to clear all websites with my mom before going on. Heck, I didn't even have a Facebook until my Sophomore year of high school and I didn't have an Instagram or a Twitter until last year (but both of those are relatively new). Guess what, AIM and Myspace wouldn't have made me any more popular in the sixth grade. All those social media sites would have done was give the bullies another avenue in which to carry out their bullying. I saw it in action. AIM was the first tool those girls used to bully my good friend, the one who had the moral compass and tried to be nice to me. They called her all sorts of names and put her down. She printed all the messages out and let me read them. Still though, there was not a curse word in any of those messages.
I follow one of my mom's seventh grade girls on Instagram. We were friends with her family before she was my mom's student; her mom does our hair and I babysat her when she was younger. Her photos generally consist of selfies, pictures of her and her sister, their dog, One Direction, and pictures of her and her friends when they hang out at the pool and fairs and stuff. Up front, I will say I creep on people's social media accounts when I have nothing better to do. I scroll through pictures, read comments, and critique them in my head; especially people who are too stupid to privatize their accounts. A few different times I've stumbled upon this girl's friends from school on twitter. She's tagged them in different photos, and I can see her following and follower list.
First off, these kids are twelve years old. If they're going to have social media accounts they should be private. Do you know how many of these accounts are private? Of all the ones I've come across, 3 were private THREE! Even two of the three that were private had 100, 200, 300 followers meaning they add anyone who requests them which defeats the whole purpose of having your account private in the first place. That irks me in a lot of ways because my mom is their technology teacher and I know what her curriculum is. They spend a least a month (maybe more) on internet safety. They watch videos about how you can't trust people on the internet and she tells them the importance of not putting pictures of themselves or personal information (like where they live, their address, phone numbers, and even their last name) on the internet. They just completely disregard everything she teaches them so they can have more "friends" and "followers". Want to know how many Instagram followers I have? 38, and they're all people I have met in real life. Want to know how many twitter followers I have? I have 66. Almost all of them I know in real life. One is Meg Cabot (the author, she follows all her followers back), and one is a local country radio station. Facebook friends, 156 and that includes family, family friends, grade school friends, high school friends, and college friends. Oh and Snapchat, which is a whole mess on its own, yeah I have about ten snapchat friends and only send messages to one of them.
Next, the language that these kids use is horrible. I remember kids in eighth grade dropping the f-bomb but it was rare. In high school, it got a little more common and in college you pretty much can't walk 10 feet without hearing it. Holy moly though, these kids are ELEVEN for crying out loud. Do they get this stuff from their parents or is it coming from music and TV and their older siblings? I only heard my dad cuss three, maybe four times before I turned eighteen and even in those three (four) times he never said the f word. My mom never and I mean NEVER swears. I've only heard her once and that was after we were in a pretty bad car accident (and she didn't know I heard her, she doesn't even remember saying cuss words) and even then it wasn't the f bomb. Maybe the house I was brought up in was just different than most other households.
I'm sure this language has something to do with the movies. TV shows and music these kids listen too as well. Know what I listened to in seventh grade? Disney Channel Original Movie Soundtracks, NSYNC, Hillary Duff, and other things like that. When I was like three four and five I listened to KISS, and Def Leppard and stuff with my dad in the car, but they didn't swear, and I was way to young to understand the meaning behind some of the songs. Point being, I wasn't allowed to listen to Eminem, Kanye, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, and all that garbage. First of all, I didn't like it (and still don't) but that's what "cool" people listen to and that's all these kids want. Even Pop music now is getting just as bad. Nicki Minaj? Lana Del Ray? Cher Lloyd? Miley Cyrus 2.0? Lady GaGa? Aside from the fact that the lyrics have no substance whatsoever, these girls are, for lack of a better term, raunchy and promiscuous Do you see what they wear? Do you hear some of the things they sing about? Granted, these girls are in their late teens and twenties. They are old enough to do and say what they want, but unfortunately they are role models to early teenage girls. Even One Direction, who I don't like because every single song sounds the same and they annoy me, if you've ever been on tumblr, imagefave, pinterest, or pretty much any social media site, you've heard of them or seen a post relating to them. It's hard to get away from them and I've seen plenty of GIFs and transcripts from interviews and quotes from them when I'm trolling imagefave for things to pin on pinterest. They swear a lot more than you would think for a boy band. Their behavior is pretty inappropriate as well but that's a whole different ball of wax. Do they not realize their target audience is twelve to sixteen year old girls? Even though they're around my age, girls my age don't listen to (or even like) them.
All kinds of cuss words, along with things like slut, hoe, whore, and plenty of other derogatory words are thrown around like they're nothing and sometimes they're even supposed to be compliments. I know this has been the theme of the rant but YOU'RE TWELVE, you shouldn't be using those words. You shouldn't be saying them to each other. I didn't even know what slut meant until high school (I think it's safe to say I didn't know what any of the other ones meant until high school either). What happened to common insults like fat or anorexic, crater face, metal mouth, and four eyes? Those are plenty bad and get your point across. Just a side note on Instagram handles as well. Every girl that I saw either had a handle name that started out heyyy_ittssss_whoever or thatttt_gurrrrl_whoever. First of all, take an english lesson, girl is not spelled with a "u" and repeating letters like that makes you look uneducated. Second of all, be original.
So I think I've went above and beyond talking about the language issue (and maybe that's just because I'm an english major) but the issue of the pictures these kids take isn't much better. I think the logical place to start is the selfie syndrome. How many pictures of yourself do you need at arms length with a peace sign and/or a duck face? The logical answer is zero but I'll be nice and say 1-3 at the most. Some of these girls (and this is not only middle schoolers, this is everyone) take a selfie every day, sometimes multiple ones a day. The face and the pose never change just the outfit, make-up, and hair style. These girls want a million "likes" on their picture and comments that say how pretty they are. It's sick. I have posted selfies before, but I don't post them for the comments or the likes. If I have a good hair day, or I like my makeup, or I'm thrilled with my outfit, yes I will take a selfie and yes they make it to either Instagram or Facebook. I might get one or two likes from my mom or my best friend or my favorite roomie and one of them usually says "pretty" or something as a comment. For the usual selfie picture that's what I get and I'm okay with that. Know why? Because those three still love me even when my hair is messy, my makeup is runny, and I'm wearing scuzzy clothes. These girls just want to see how many people they can get to compliment them, and it's just fake. Like I said, it's sick. Then there's the whole problem with not having their Instagram private and taking pictures of themselves in their school uniforms with the school name on them so crazies can come hunt them down. In general, giving cameras to kids under the age of fifteen or sixteen is dumb. Yet again high school kids like to sext, so maybe cameras for people under twenty are a bad idea.
Not to mention that Instagram is a great breeding ground for bullying and fighting. I've seen fights on Instagram over "who's going to marry which One Direction boy" which is just stupid on many levels (those of which I really don't feel like getting into right now). I've also seen comments on selfies that say things like "Oh, you wore THAT shirt today?" or even more directly rude comments like "ew". Clearly no one taught these kids that if you don't have anything nice to say than don't say anything at all (does that make me a hypocrite since I'm badmouthing all of them in a blog post?).
I believe the root of the problem is discipline. These kids aren't disciplined at home. They get whatever they want if they whine and complain long enough. They have no respect for their parents or grown ups of any kind and they think it's okay to treat everyone else like dirt as long as they feel good about themselves. Self-centeredness runs rampant in the pre-teen demographic and lack of discipline at home plus the vanity and ego stroking provided by "popularity" on social media sites creates little monsters.
When I was a kid everything I did was monitored by my parents; What I watched on TV, what I listened to, what I read, what I did on the internet, and what movies I went to see. I'm sure not everyone had that sort of monitoring by their parents and they didn't turn out to be snotty self-centered jerks that curse 24/7 and dress slutty. I'm not saying to be a well adjusted human being you had to live your childhood under the microscope. I am saying, that when kids are allowed to run free and do whatever they want with no consequences it sets up a pattern of bad behavior in the future. If kids aren't taught morals, if they never hear the word "no", if they're exposed to crude things at a young age and told that's okay, they're never going to learn how to be respectable human beings and they're never going to learn how to respect anyone else.