YOLO: You Only Live Online

Justin Timberlake can bring sexy back, but he couldn’t revive MySpace if he tried. And while I loved discovering new music, having a selective Top 8, and spending hours editing the html coding on my profile layout – there’s no sense in beating a dead horse. In 2008, Facebook slowly crept its way into popularity. It was new, fresh, easy to use, looked nothing close to MySpace, and it took the majority of today’s youth along with it.

We didn’t want our parents on MySpace, for fear of them cramping our style or reading our personal blog posts. Now, times have changed, and we don’t want our parents on Facebook for an entirely different list of reasons. What sixteen year old girl wants her father to see photos of her playing beer pong on a Tuesday night when she was supposedly out studying, or what seventeen year old boy wants his mother to see his repeated explicit statuses about ‘pussy, money, and weed’? MySpace was the secret social life we had in addition to our already real-life social life. We kept the two almost separate, and our online self was like an alter ego.

Now, we’ve combined the two. We put our entire life on our Facebook page – risqué bikini photos, public break ups, where we go to school, why our minimum wage jobs suck – and we think we’re completely safe. We think this is what we have to do, that is the quota we have to fill, that unless we drink until we’re sick and make fourteen statuses about the color of our vomit, we’ll be condemned to the ‘un-cool’ side of life. How do you expect to fit in with the popular kids if you post statuses studying, pictures in one piece swim suits, and stay out of heated group message arguments?

But there’s that Drake-made popular saying again; you only live once. So why care about what potential employers or college recruiters see if they typed your name in to the Google search engine? You’ve only got one life to live, and you might as well live to the fullest. That’s what any teen will tell you, but they’ve sadly taken it into the absolute wrong context. The saying means to take risks and chances – going on a first date, climbing Mount Everest, applying to the school of your dreams even if you’re afraid you won’t get in. Although I’m quite sure Drizzy Drake was talking about that kind of living, I don’t think he was encouraging kids to abandon all morals.

Of course, not many parents listen to Drake, and not many parents are aware of what their teenager does online.  They know they spend x amount of hours on Facebook talking to their friends and it’s because of that they feel the need to make an account themselves in order to connect with their child on that friend level. What they don’t expect, is for their child to block their profile immediately upon receiving their friend request. Having your parent as a Facebook friend – the thought of them actually commenting on your photos where your friends would see – is the very definition of un-cool. Not only is it ‘totes lames’ but what would your Mom say to seeing your posts about ‘gettin’ fxed uuupp11!!1’ or pictures of you tonguing the college guy who rings up your produce at the market down the street? Not sure if that’s a conversation that would go well at the family dinner table.

Despite all of the ugly, Facebook has its benefits. You can reconnect with old friends or send an IM to someone from your History class to get an assignment you missed or you can even keep up to date with your favorite bands or musicians. Teens post photo albums of their Quinceañeras, trips to the beach, concerts, and post statuses about acing their final exams or hanging out with friends. Adults use the site like a more modern Classmates.com and find people from their senior high school class.

So no, not all of us put our lives online and use our social network profiles to showcase our Friday nights out with the girls or our weekend parties. But whether the Internet is used for good or for evil, fact of the matter is that the Digital Age has taken over. We can’t keep our youth off the Internet, no matter how hard we try. We can either charge towards it with torches and pitchforks, or sit back and wonder if our children’s children will be Facebook pros, or if they’ll even remember the site at all. Either outcome, the Digital Age has got us right where it wants us, and it doesn’t plan on letting us out any time soon.