PARENTS care too much. It is not their fault, it is just part of their DNA. Teenagers like me, however, are not wise enough to see this. All we are good at doing is whining: “My mom is so controlling!” “Why is she so critical?” “Just back off, Ma!” “I know what I’m doing!” “She just doesn’t give me any space.” You get the picture.
For some strange reason, fathers tend to be less fussy, less nosey, and less noisy. But when push comes to shove, and the lady-of-the-house starts to fret big time, fathers can and do get down to the whole prying game.
This is where Facebook comes into the picture. Teens who didn’t know any better in the early days of Facebook would invite their parents to be their friends—out of a sheer sense of duty to keep Mommy and Daddy in the loop with the goings on in their lives. But that do-good act, for some teenagers, have turned into regret.
Facebook posts, you see, leave you vulnerable to those inquisitive, spying eyes, who never look at a post the same way Friend A, or B, or C does. A photo of a Japanese matcha chiffon cake with white chocolate soufflé mousse, for instance, taken at an ultra-fancy cafe would draw all the ‘ooh’s and ‘ah’s from friends, but something else from Mommy. Why are you spending so much money on a fancy cake? And you having this at eight in the evening on a school night? And who’s this Dylan boy you are with?
You do not have to imagine the consequences of this mental drama. Mother is not a happy camper, and several things could be brewing right this moment three minutes after your proud and loud cake post. She could be calling you this very second, or sending you a whole bunch of angry text messages.
This is just one example of the kind of encounter teens do not appreciate. The feeling of that Mother Eye lurking everywhere is unbearable. How can anyone bear being watched and judged 24/7? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of having a network of friends with whom you could share your photos, your laughter, perhaps your angst? After all, that is what teens live for.
Teens are vocal, they want to be heard. They want to tread down the path of explosive issues (“I think I’m gay”), and sometimes, angry teens just have to let it all out (“FML!”) If they lived in fear of being judged or censured for what they say, what is the point of life? Certainly, it is not the fault of the platform, but who they have invited on it. They could simply unfriend their parents, but that would kick up a storm.
No wonder teens are switching, by droves, to Instagram, which is more photo-based rather than text-based. The privacy feature also means that not any Jane or Joe could follow you. You could block them out, including Mom and Dad.
So hide in the safety of Instagram all you want, and possibly even the not-as-popular Twitter. Wherever you hide, there is still no escaping the roving radar of Prying Mom, who, in truth, is only prying because she cannot help worrying—always, till the end of time.
Lim Zhi Yi, Secondary Three
For more essays by Zhi Yi, visit Zhi Yi Writes.
This essay was written in response to a stimulus-styled question from a Secondary Three mid-year exam paper. Adapted from a Straits Times article entitled Teens Exiting Facebook to Avoid ‘Prying Parents,‘ the question challenges students to “write an expository essay to explain an issue that is relevant to the stimulus” in a word range of 450 to 550 words.