When you’re 14 Facebook comments can make or break friendships but in my experience it’s like real life – everyone falls out then their best of pals two days later.
Teenage relationships tend to be fluid but until social media they were played out in youth clubs, classrooms, bedrooms and the playground. Often the only parental inkling of teenage turbulence would be a passing comment along the lines of:
“How was school today?”
“You going round to Sophie’s tomorrow?”
“Just don’t feel like it.”
Then tomorrow she goes round to Sophie’s as usual, like nothing was ever wrong.
And then Facebook happened. Now the drama is there for all to see and we, if we’re Facebook parents have to learn when to pretend we didn’t read that or when to have a quiet word in the shell-like.
As a networked parent I’ve held my daughter’s social media hand along the way, from CBeebies aged 4 to Facebook, aged 12 and three quarters. I’ve hopefully given her the tools to keep herself safe, in general and to think about channel security settings. Now she’s a bit older she’s now helping me get my head round Vine, Instagram and Snapchat.
However, on Facebook, among teenagers there’s this phenomenon known as an aimed status. Yes, aimed statuses are a thing.
My daughter and some of her friends are friends with me on Facebook and I kind of noticed these aimed statuses a while back. A random statement, seemingly plucked out of nowhere, no one tagged, no one named, but something, usually snide, aimed at someone who’s hacked you off. The first time I noticed them for real was when I thought one of them was aimed at me. Turns out it wasn’t but it showed me the power of an aimed status to raise paranoia levels.
I’ve noticed lots of these going through my news feed – they all seem to be at it – and the flurry of responses is sometimes funny as friends try to work out who it’s aimed at. Everyone has a laugh and it all blows over.
Then this happened.
“You’re pathetic tbh. Sort yourself out.”
A couple of people chipped in with suggestions as to who was being pathetic. The one girl who’d been ruled out but hadn’t obviously read all the posts suggested she be tagged the next time my daughter was aiming a status at her.
Her retort? “I wasn’t talking about you but if the shoe fits.”
At this point there were about 5 people in the conversation and 10 comments. Then the girl’s mum waded in, all guns blazing and it all took a turn for the serious.
Suddenly the people in the conversation were being accused of treating her daughter badly. She then went on to name a mutual friend on Facebook for all to see and described her as ‘troubled’ and said she’d already warned my daughter away from her but didn’t listen.
To Alyx’s credit she came right back with the fact that she can choose her own friends thank you very much.
At this point I felt I had to intervene to I posted the following:
“Facebook is not the place to be having discussions like this. If you have any issues with my daughter I’d appreciate a grown-up phonecall, not a slagging session on here with a bunch of teenagers.”
This comment got 18 likes – almost a record for me.
A few comments later one of the teenagers came out with this gem of a truth:
“Teenage lassies argue all the time then fall back in within a week anyway.”
“If my mum was fighting my battles for me in an aimed status I’d take a head dive out my window.”
265 comments happened while us mums had a heated Messenger debate – I never got the grown-up phonecall. Turns out her daughter was giving as good as she got with the aimed statuses but had been blocking her mum! But she doesn’t think that I should leave Alyx to fight her own battles because she’s just a child.
Well, actually I consider Alyx at 14 to be a young adult and if she can put her own wrongs right then I’ve taught her well.
However, the lesson learned from this is that a parent diving head-first into a Facebook conversation is like butting into a playground conversation – wrong, cringey and just a tad creepy.
What starts as teenage banter suddenly becomes slander when an adult joins in.
As for aimed statuses, I might not like them but they seem to be as much part of teenage life as spots and Freederm.
I’m pretty much over you and your random thoughts tbh . . .
A song from me to you