What I’ve learned about being a Step-dad

Archive for 2018

The Troll Generation


Remember when the internet troll was just some anonymous person online that was trying to make themselves look superior by putting you and everyone around you down?  Remember how we ignored them and tried our best “Not to Feed the Troll“?  Well…  They’re back.  Well actually they never really left in the first place,  the trouble is, they’ve evolved.  This next generation of kids, our 16 year old’s, were born to the internet.  Not only have they never experienced a world without the internet they’ve never experienced a world without Internet Trolls.  So what, right?  It’s not a big deal, is it? Well, yeah it kinda is.  Because remember they are the product of their environment.  And while we had both the internet and real life social friends, we were able to recognize and isolate (ignore) those internet trolls with ease.  Because the social circles of today revolve around internet communication and not as much face to face communication, the internet troll has had a wonderful mask to hide behind.  Making them even more hidden then ever before to the eyes of this generation.  

The Troll Generation, are just simply acting and reacting in reflection of the environment they are most comfortable in.  We did it when we were there age, and they’re doing it now.  The only problem is the complete lack of empathy or compassion relayed between two people in any given conversation when that conversation is relayed completely online.  Unfortunately something was lost when this change took place.  This generation is depressed more and more, and that depression is read into every word that is texted, posted, commented, or otherwise relayed online.  A few years ago I had written a business article for a newsletter of a company I had worked for regarding how we read into emails with emotions that are not necessarily intended by the writer.  And now because this generation is born to the Internet Troll, they understand it, inherently.  They couldn’t explain why they know, they just do.  And they use it.  They use what they understand to be the way individuals talk to one another through sarcasm and defamation.  All so they can hide their thoughts behind a shield of “unemotional, uncaring, disinterest” to protect themselves from the rejection of their peer group.     

   The unfortunate part is we only get to see the Troll.  They work so hard to protect themselves from the possibility of rejection from their peers that the online persona bleeds into their offline persona.  So imagine being in your rebellion phase, with all the related teenage angst and frustration and the only way to communicate with your peers is to Troll the world with them.  Welcome the Troll Generation.  A generation of kids that only communicate with each other and AT us via trolling.  A bunch of kids on a library stoop tossing a hand sign up they know is going to piss people off, but don’t really know why (or care), just for the credit of saying “U Stoopid! Y U no Like me? I wave hi see, U Stoopid!”.  

So how do we correct this?  Well, truth is, I don’t think we can.  This is the new normal, and something that they will need to resolve on their own.  Just like we did with whatever it was that we did that was SOOO different from what our parents did.  We just need to remember that they want the same things we wanted when we were there age.  Understanding, Acceptance from our peers, and credit for our knowledge.  We can only do the first and last, and the other will be handled naturally.  As long as we can maintain a moral compass with them, and help them see the best direction and how to make the best decisions then we’ve done all that we can do. 

Social Media Addiction

I know how this is going to come off, me posting information on social media addiction on…  Social Media.  But that’s the medium of my choice for this.  And yes, I know it’s been years since my last update but It’s time.  It has been for a while.  You would never give your children free access to addictive drugs, but yet you give them access to the internet all time.

These days it can’t be avoided.  It’s a part of the social structure now, the way teens communicate today is almost strictly through social media apps like WhatsApp, KiK, Facebook, Discord, Tumbler, and on and on the list goes.  Every time I post a new article here it gets posted on Facebook, Twitter, and of course this blog.  So far there’s really nothing all that wrong with using all the available avenues of communication, and not just Teens but adults too.  Adults (at least some of us), however, know when to stop.  We know the value of talking to someone face to face.  We recognize the difference between something said in person and something said online.  There’s an old saying “Actions Speak Louder than Words”, online… all you have are words.  Kids today are not growing up with that.  Sure they communicate in part at school but barely.  The majority of their interaction with their piers is online.  And while that may not seem like an issue at first glance, remember this is all online.  There’s only words here, no action.  And yes I know there’s “Action” in gif’s and some memes, but not real action performed and witnessed by the individuals discussing it.  The most important part of this interaction is the physical presence between the involved individuals, and they are only witnessing it third hand.  And what’s worse is that our parents saw this coming.  They yelled at us to get off the video games and go outside and play.  With cell phones and tablets, go outside and play just means to do the same thing only outside.  Walk down the street, and if you come across a group of kids (as unlikely as that is), they will most likely all have their head in their own phones barely acknowledging one another.  Then it happens.  You wake up to this disconnection from reality in your child and realize something has to change.  And when you make the necessary change, you’re surprised to find that your child is acting like a strung out addict.  Well, the truth is, they might as well be.  As human being we strive every day to prove our place in our tribe.  And when we get that recognition, we are rewarded biologically with a little something called dopamine.  It a wonderful chemical that makes you feel incredible.  And every time you see a like, a follow, a share, you get a nice dose of that wonderful chemical.  These kids, and some adults, are getting tons of it everyday.  And for some of these kids it’s the only way they get it.  So what can you do?  It’s a rough road ahead.  You’re going to experience a version of your child that you may not like, but hang in there, the affects of dopamine withdrawal can be mitigated.  First stay on target, the first 24 hours will be rough for sure, but once you pass that you just need to maintain your focus.  Find constructive ways for them to interact with the word they only wrote about before but in the real world.  Find ways to turn some of the words (keep it positive) they used online into actions off line.

The important part of this is showing them real ways to get that dose of dopamine, as opposed to the imitation that social media provides.  That feel good feeling should be accompanied by a sense of accomplishment and a physical reward or memory to look back on.

Once they understand the difference between the imitation and the real thing, they’ll want the real thing more and use social media as the social tool it was meant for and not the drug dealer it has become.  With all this in mind, as a step parent there’s only one thing you really can do, and that is support your significant other while they deal with this issue.  Offer things to do, never stop, and never give up.  Sooner or later they will come out of the social media stooper and you need to be ready take advantage of the opportunity that provides to break through to them.