Tacos and Social Media: The Story Behind a Viral Tweet
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“No, for the last time, you cannot have Instagram,” I tell my thirteen-year-old daughter.
“But why?” she asks.
I don’t answer. I’m tired of answering.
I have given the reasons why she isn’t ready for social media. She keeps asking. She’s always going to keep asking. My wife sits beside me at the dinner table and makes another taco. Taco night is supposed to be this glorious event but instead, it’s crapped on by constant demands from my teenager.
“All my friends have it,” she says and ignores her taco. She’s treading on thin ice here. You can’t just ignore tacos. But she’s thirteen and passive-aggressive is second nature to her.
It surprises me how quickly we can fall into cliches; All my friends have it. There is only one response, of course. If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
I almost say that, and the words hang on my lips. Instead, I pay attention to the glory that is the taco.
“I know what I’m doing,” she continues on. The taco starts to wither. I can feel it.
I take a bite of my own taco, letting its goodness swell in my mouth. I find the energy that I didn’t think I had before. Because that’s what it’s like dealing with a teen: they suck every bit of emotional energy out of you. All of it.
We have the same arguments over and over again. And it doesn’t matter if I’m right or if I’m wrong, that’s never the point. The point is that I’m the authority figure pitted against her, regardless of what side I’m on.
“No, you don’t know what you are doing,” I tell her. “You think you do but you have no idea the kind of people that are out there. There are no rules on the internet. We’ve told you this. And you think that people are just going to be great and happy? People can be terrible. Your mother and I have protected you from this, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. And once finds out that you are a thirteen, they are going to pounce on you. You’re not ready to deal with it.”
“But you write about yourself all the time! You put it all out there and it’s fine!”
She does have a point. I make my living writing funny stories about fatherhood. But what she doesn’t know are some of the comments I’ve gotten back.
It’s not all funny and haha Shannon you’re great. I’ve been called some pretty toxic things. Some people have wondered if I wear a dress because I’m an at-home-dad. I ignore them because I’m old enough to know not to feed the trolls. My daughter is not.
“I let you read the nice stuff, the compliments. I don’t let you read the other things.”
All I get is an eye roll. She stands up from the table and throws her taco down the garbage disposal. This hurts worse than the attitude.
That was a perfectly good taco. Not only is she trying to strike out at me, but she is also punishing the dog. He loves taco night. But I don’t back down because I can’t.
“Honey, girls your age get recruited by ISIS,” I tell her. I’m a parent, so naturally, I go to the most drastic of examples of the evils of social media. It’s in my nature, the nature of all parents. No, you can’t go over to Jane’s house for the party because we are sure that someone isn’t vaccinated and you’ll catch bubonic plague.
“Oh. My. God,” she says. This is her natural defense when I go over the top. We could do this for a while.
My phone dings, and I pull it out of my pocket. And there, underneath notifications for my twitter account where I tell my little jokes, my point is made. All good things happen on Taco night.
“Ok, slick, come here,” I say. She walks over and I hand her my phone.
Honestly, I couldn’t have planned this any better. Taco has intervened when I needed them the most.
She reads the direct message I received as she was abusing her tacos.
“Wait…” she begins.
I say nothing because I want this to sink in.
“I don’t understand. Do you know this person?” she asks.
“So this is just a random message?” she asks.
“But you’re not a lady. And you’re not beautiful either,” she says.
Even when I’m right, she has to throw in an insult. I’m very beautiful. At least on the inside.
“Read the message out loud for your mother,” I say.
My daughter reads, “It’s such an honor to have such a beautiful lady like you following me.”
“I get stuff like this all the time. And it’s because of my name. Some people think all Shannon’s are a girl. They don’t even check my profile before sending stuff like that. All. The. Time.”
My wife laughs and lettuce shoots out of her mouth. “Beautiful lady?” she asks.
“Yup. And that’s not the only thing I get. Sometimes guys send me pictures of their junk. It doesn’t happen often, but yeah, that’s a thing apparently.”
“No way,” my daughter says.
“Way,” I tell her although I don’t keep any old copies of those messages. I tend to delete the picture, block the person, and make tacos.
“And if that happens to me, what do you think you’re going to get sent? There will be a time when I let you out into the world but not before you know how to handle yourself. How to be safe. And how to make accounts private. I’m a writer honey, so my stuff is open. You don’t need to be. You’re not ready for social media just yet.”
I have a conversation with my parenting taco and we both feel that we have made out point.
“Fine,” my daughter says and walks away.
Yes, very fine parenting. We should have taco night more often. I finish my dinner and my wife and I head to bed feeling that for once we know what we are doing when dealing with teenagers.
But apparently, we don’t…because a day later she created an Instagram account on her school computer and followed one of my dad friends, who promptly asked me when I let my daughter get on Instagram.
We will be having lots of taco nights during the month that she is grounded so she can think about what she has done. And she better clean her plate.
And that is the story behind this tweet. Sometimes, you’ve got to make a point publicly.
The post Tacos and Social Media: The Story Behind a Viral Tweet appeared first on The Good Men Project.
April 3, 2019 at 03:32PM