Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand … Excerpt: Chapter 1 … Part 1
… a timely tale of struggles, regrets and survival on Social Media with a Superpower Tool
Who worries about young teen girls lost in time in a Selfie culture? Who cares if adolescent brains are undeveloped to enter adult rites on social media?
CHAPTER ONE: PEE IN THE BOTTLE says the BITCH ON THE BEACH
…beloved Selfie Cell phones, drug treatment, and making Time in the Sand
Part one: the problem of selfies, addiction, granny introduces time as a value
Part two: discuss frames and fragility of time … what if my mistakes are not my fault?
“Pee in this cup,” the doctor said, pristine fingernails, pale grey eyes, white jacket, sitting in a whitish clinical room with files of other diseases neatly stacked behind him on the wall shelf. “Keep the door open.”
“Don’t have to,” I said, matter of fact.
“Then drink this water and we’ll wait a few minutes to do your drug test.”
A few minutes earlier his assistant had weighed me at 90 pounds. You could count the heavy strands in my brown hair, long and unwashed, without any softness or shine. I keep sniffing … my nose is dripping … sign of an addict. My stare is vacant as I wait to pee because I need a drug free sample to get more methadone to stop my craving for harder drugs. Facing odds to become sober or face death.
I’ve always wanted to be a better person … my mother and my father, when he was home, always stood by and believed in me. Who filled my brain with promotional rubbish to disavow myself enough to want to be like somebody else? How did I learn so much disrespect for others including myself? How did this happen? Who told me to think that my parents and society in general were clueless, out of touch? How did I end up with this guy who pounds the wall, hits me and minutes later kneels down begging that I don’t leave him? How did I end up hooked on drugs?
This afternoon, my Grannie has driven me in to the appointment and sits beside me with clasped hands holding her stupid simulated snake handbag. She isn’t really that old, definitely a different generation, very helpful, but a definite old ass who has never once posted a Selfie.
I drink more water trying to taste it slowly, closing my eyes and flipping pages through my mind … favorite girlfriends, Besties like me, now allowed to be called bitches in the common vernacular … my new updated Instagram profile … such a cute Snapchat image with tiger ears and whiskers that received so many “likes” from others.
Is it only five short years ago when I was 14 years old? So young and so unstoppable then. My special Besties and I were unbeatable, untreatable, all mini-me’s advancing into womanhood … wanting the Hottest Crown by mimicking the stars on our Small Screens.
Just ask “Small screen, small screen in my hand … who’s the hottest of them all?”
I can be considered pretty with a thin face; almond eyes and any self-fulfilling gratification was easy enough by wearing a new glossy lipstick exposing teeth whitened by strips … all to fit into the demands of a physically gratifying culture.
For God’s sake, looking back, at 14 what did I know about hot button ads, privacy and personal data collection on the World Wide Web? What did I know about my personal or social needs or having a moral code beyond two choices: be good or be bad? Where did all these contrary messages come from to cause me to mess up so badly so young with so little resistance?
But, at the beginning, wasn’t it exciting for us young girls because we had the best tools to help find our sense of self-worth and survival in this hyper culture? We had power at our fingertips to show the whole world what we thought that society wanted or admired. We were teenage girls, eager to please for approval and push our independence by listening to the CELTIES siren call. Celties was the fond name by which a group of us girls called our Smart Cell Phones. And Selfies are what Celties produced in simple terms of click and post.
“Celtie, Celtie in my hand… who is the hottest Selfie on the screen?”
And how I loved my Celtie to make my special Selfie … my perfect Celtie Selfie with its filters and airbrushes to create my image minus the lumps and pimples; trying to discount as much as possible my drab room and boring parents.
Just part your lips a little smile … show a little pink tongue … new eye shadow and eyebrow … a little budding cleavage … a glance over the shoulder with a visible bra strap … another quick click to post to a huge audience who will approve my looks … LIKE ME or NOT … HOT or NOT … DELETE or NOT … my private being scattered on the public web like leaves in the wind into strangers’ domains to secretive liars and lairs.
Of course, it became clear to my creative young mind with such a friendly magical CELTIE tool that a Celtie Selfie didn’t need to represent who I really am; it could also pretend to be any self-portrait to fit mass media peer review for maximum clicks and likes. It was a fairy tale come true and a handsome prince will love me, too.
And so, it was that Celties gave birth to Selfies; but how did the Selfie craze spread like quack grass? Am I thin enough, or will I starve myself to measure down to somebody else’s weight scales? Is there a way to look and act sexy without being sexual? Is it about boys liking me … especially a certain popular guy … survival of the cutest in my underdeveloped brain but developing body … being sharp in fixations but dull in experience?
Of course, it’s only natural to want to be accepted and validated as someone who matters, isn’t it? I really wasn’t raised to be obsessed with myself. But why, and who, set the standard that my value needs to be measured by degrees of hotness based on physical image, cosmetic camouflage or body enhancement like nose jobs, booby cup sizes and booty lifts?
My mind is busy trying to connect past dots. I really didn’t want to do anything stupid nor did I realize yet how my brain had been hacked.
But my dear Celtie became like my third hand and second brain … a living, breathing, reacting device. I had such good feelings when it praised me with Likes and more Likes … I’m looking good. But to be honest sometimes it would give me empty feelings that I’m not good enough … you’re not doing your best … you should have better control over your life.
Then, at my fingertips, I could swipe away to something richer, happier and hotter … a striking headline, a skimpy promise, the noise and confusion of a hyper advertising world. Swipe and click … like and click … delete and swipe and click … a tap dance of comparing Who to Whom and Everybody Else.
I’ve read that sometimes when someone faces a life and death situation, that one’s timeline comes into view more clearly.
Stop and think. I need some anchor point to blame for my mistakes. My dear wonderful Celtie, you make it so easy to pose and click my way on the internet; to make me smile and cry, hurry and worry, feel shame and worth alternatively. You give me permission to be a player in someone else’s reality show; someone else’s character flaws, drama, wreckage, and diet of extreme and extravagant lifestyles.
Where is the breaking point, a STOP sign to re-evaluate my real natural self-worth?
My Celtie buzzes purringly in my handbag, but I flick my attention away to wonder how strange it is that the 4-letter word LIKE has become so artificial yet so potent. Why is it important for people to LIKE ME when they don’t know me; if I don’t pass a 100 LIKES will I delete my public and personal self as a let-down or failure?
Stop and think. Just stop and think. Has my beloved Celtie turned into another kind of addiction by grooming me into some kind of Selfie animal led around by the nose for the sake of self-identity and prey to promotions and promises on the internet?
Now, having nearly used up my teen years at 19, entering prescribed adulthood, I no longer want my dreams to be tethered by a selfish Celtie on social media. From experience, I wonder if it is a dumb thing to follow the masses where dumber may work in the short run, but not in the long run.
Failure, doubt, confused emotions are mixed up with drugs … just trying to be someone special, someone to LIKE ME. Stamp … Stamp … Hashtag … Hashtag … Hashtags float across my mind’s eye.
“Are you ready to give your urine sample yet?” The doctor’s voice broke my introspection.
“I don’t feel like it yet,” I answer.
“Then go sit in the waiting room until you are ready, but we need to test your urine to make sure you are telling the truth that you are not using drugs right now.”
I look at him sitting there with his brow half raised, his mouth in a slight frowning twist. “Stop judging me,” I think. “I know my life is hanging on a thread. You don’t know my story.”
Grannie and I walk out to the hallway where I drink more water and feel more bloated, less hungry. There is still this dull drill inside me. Why am I here? How did this happen? Who do I blame? Is it my fault?
She tries to look reassuring. “Be patient. I’m proud of you, Katherine.” She is the only one who calls me by my full name, Katherine Madeline, but friends call me Kit, sometimes Mad Kit with reason.
“I give you a lot of credit,” she said. “You are brave enough to face this. I admire your courage. It’s the first step in making the right choice to turn this around.”
My Grannie is a retired schoolteacher, always prim and proper, who wanders into my life from time to time always trying to teach me rules and decorum about general things. She used to teach art and often used pictures to explain heavy thoughts requiring more than one viewpoint when words muddled the idea.
“Remember,” she said fondly, “our picnic a few summers ago and our drawings in the sand. We did blocks, circles and lines to show how complicated life is. I was worried about the things you were doing or not doing. I didn’t want you to make mistakes that could affect your long-life span. So, we know it’s better to catch this young ebb tide before it escapes into places you don’t want it to go into.”
That’s just how she talks trying to find logical reasons.
“Sure,” I answer without focus but glad to close my eyes and remember the hazy image of the local river and its shiny ripples as they lapped along the shore line weaving in and out of a jumble of rocks, tree roots and weeds, leaving wet patches on open stretches of fine grey sand. I especially remember stretching out on the warm sand, loving the sunlight seeping into my body, the murmur of aspen leaves nearby.
As always, I remember Grannie asking how I was doing in school. “What’s your favorite subject?” hoping for something I might be positive about.
“Not going to school anymore. Not going to stupid alternative loser classes either. Who really cares about paragraphs or botany or algebra? I’m young only once. You probably forgot how it is to be pretty only once. Maybe you were at one time. But it’s my time to enjoy myself now.”
Grannie had a way of wincing. “I’m truly sorry you made a choice to drop out of school so early letting your limitations be part of your future. You also dropped out of your Timeline; blocked it like a dam without the benefits of a general education.
Remember my one rule about living?” she asked quietly.
I forgot but knew I would hear again.
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