Things I'd tell Teenagers If I Thought They'd Listen
Everyone has an opinion of what they'd do if they could do it all over again (even if they deny it), and deep down we're jealous of the opportunities presented to the next generation. As a Generation X'er that has given away to a Gen Y population, who is now giving way to the W (wireless) generation, I've seen my youth come and go. Of course, try telling that to anyone younger than yourself, and either they don't see what's coming, or if they could, they wouldn't understand it. Knowing that absolutely none of my intended audience is going to read this, I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to say things I'd tell teenagers if I thought they would listen.
Put that phone DOWN!
Okay, maybe I'm guilty of this one myself, but not nearly as bad as some of the other people I've seen. I understand that your cell phone is a tool, however, if I gave you a hammer would you run about looking at it constantly? I doubt it. And even if you did stare at that hammer as intently as you stared at that iPhone, I'd still hope you'd not be paying attention to what's going on around you long enough to trip into a pool so I could put it up on YouTube much to billions of people's amusement.
Listen, life isn't all about Facebook, Twitter, or texted gossip. Pull yourself away from the screen long enough, and you could be the one in life being watched, rather than doing all the watching. Life is best experienced with all five senses, and you're depriving yourself of at least three of them by watching your phone.
Start Planning Your Future Today
The moment you turn "blank-teen" (13, 14, 15, etc.) you need to start thinking about your future. In this day and age, teenagers can start making money with their own online business, researching scholarships and colleges, and moving toward their first career. Note that I said "first." This means if you don't like what your first choice of work is after college (and for the love of God, go to college), you can always do something else. After all, you'll need a little life experience to really find out what you love doing anyway.
EFF the Internet
I know, that smacks of irony considering the venue in which this soliloquy (yes, I'm calling it a soliloquy because I know I'm only talking to myself in reality) is being published, but again, that's only because I know better. The internet is fantastic, don't get me wrong, but a majority of the information on the internet is based on something heard on the internet, making it complete and utter cow crap. If you want pure, unadulterated information, go to the source, experience it for yourself, or find something better than Wikipedia to base your opinion on. When Euripides said "question everything..." he was looking square at the internet. Know your sources, read beyond the abridged version, and get at least two sources that collaborate before you go spouting something you know is a fact.
Along with questioning everything, you should also learn to think critically. Critical thinking means that you challenge things that seem wrong, and ask questions first before passing judgement. Remember that the Big Bang and Evolution are only theories, and that very few rules are one hundred percent. Those who tend to think critically are more likely to see opportunities, and those that spot opportunities and take calculated risks tend to be more successful. Your most powerful muscle is your mind, and when mixed with a little faith, it can move mountains
You're Only Truly Free in Your Own Mind
Some thoughts that you have should never be acted on, like screaming "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, or wearing those pants down around your ankle. Some thoughts shouldn't be published on Facebook, Twitter, or the front page of the New York Times (it's a newspaper - that thing with paper and letters that you can purchase it without a download). Do your best to keep positive things online, and work out those bad thoughts yourself, or face to face with the object of your anger - leave us out of it. Your online image is how everyone sees you and those people you're bad mouthing are real people. Never say "it's just the internet," because it's not "just the internet." It's real people at the other end that think and love and have parents just like you.
Stop Being Passive/Aggressive
If you have a problem with something, fix it, talk through it, work it out directly. Right now. In person. If you're old enough to find this on the internet, then you've probably experienced passive/aggressive behavior. The term "subtweet" comes to mind but it shows up everywhere. If you see something, say something. Sometimes it's scary, but mostly that's temporary. We need to learn to communicate in a positive manner, and learn to accept communication in a positive manner. If you EVER need to start off a Facebook post with "I wish that CERTAIN people..." it's time to re-evaluate what you're doing and address that certain person without using the internet to do it. Don't be chickenshit.
So, that's it. Just five things. I'm sure there's more, but the internet has shortened attention spans, including mine. I really hope that you read this, and then act upon it. I'll probably get an eyeroll and some internet themed memes for my trouble, something like "Y U SO OLD?!?" but without caps, spelling, and punctuation, and posted by someone named "anonymous."