“Do you know how many people are following me?” This was the question my teen aged daughter asked me………….
“Following you? Who?”
“On Instagram Dad!”
15 years back if this question came up, my entire neighborhood would have assembled in front of my house. Also, the relationship between a dad and daughter could have gone in a different direction…
She was feeling bad as her friends have more followers than her. Her only concern was that she had less following than my niece.
Welcome to this Insta generation where instant gratification is too slow!
I was at a co working space last Saturday. After our meeting, we headed towards the coffee machine. On the wall was this notice “Selfiethon props” (see image).
Why this obsession with selfies?
What does a selfie moment tell you? I found the answer in the book “Unselfie” by Michele Borba. Selfies tell you, “Look at me looking at you”. There is peer pressure and pressure to pierce through that self-esteem. Another perspective that I got from a millennial was that selfies made them feel good and good being alone. Later these images motivate them to love themselves and their own company when things are not going well. Unless you capture that moment, it’s not real.
So, is it all good? According to the book “Unselfie”, teens today are 40% less empathetic that they were 30 years ago. There is a self-admiration craze. How do we cultivate empathy in our children? How to ignite a kindness revolution in our kids and the larger community?
5th June evening we decided to have dinner outside. That day was special. All I wanted to do was to sit across with my children and share the moments that I had spent with my father. Now to get an Instagram addicted 13-year-old to do this was always a challenge. In 2009, along with my wife, I had written 15 pages about him and I had kept a print-out of those pages with me. I cornered her (no way she could move out from seat), ordered her choice of food from the menu and held her those 15 pages and asked her to go through those papers. I noticed that she could concentrate and read those entire 15 sheets and I could make out that she was also emotional (real emoji!) towards the end. She did not say anything. She said everything.
It was a very different evening as I have noticed most of the times they do take a selfie in every outing. That evening was an #unselfie evening. We had exchanged old stories and I had to finish all their food as they had enough food for thought!
The old way of “Tell them what you are going tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them” needs to be tweaked. It is no longer working at least for me. “Show them what you are going to show them, show them.” I had to show her the papers and I had to show her how much of empathy was created by my father with those conversations which we had in the past with him. The one thing that I’ve understood as a parent is that your kids may not be always listening, but they are always watching.