Social media has totally changed the way that teens today socialize. It used to be that if you wanted to hang out with your friends, the only thing to do was get in a car, drive to an abandoned campsite, ignore the old man who yells at you that the land is cursed, and then get picked off one by one by a masked killer. Now, instead of that, teens are building whole social lives on Facebook and TikTok, and not even encountering the old man screaming about cursed land. I appreciate the new possibilities social media has created, but I worry about what they’re missing out on.
Teenagers today need to put down their phones and go outside, where I, a masked killer, am waiting to murder them.
I understand the appeal of being on your phone. Teenagers want to be in touch with their friends. They want to know the latest gossip. They want to contact the police once they realize that something’s wrong and their friends are dead. These are all understandable human instincts. But is it really good for us to have them constantly? To never have to wait for anything or anyone?
Teenagers are at an important developmental period in their lives. They’re becoming confident enough in themselves and in their identities to begin engaging with the world as a participant rather than merely a spectator. They are attempting to define what adulthood means for them. Somehow, they have to do all of this while also making it home from the isolated cabin in the woods they’re trapped in without being killed by a mysterious masked assailant, usually me.
The point is that the intense internal work that teenagers need to do in order to step into the world in a healthy way requires time and attention. And how can they give it that time and attention when they’re always on their phone, calling the police, or giving the police information, or coordinating how to survive until the police arrive? There’s always some new distraction or emergency service to get help from. When do you just explore who you are, without any screens in the way?
Some of the best moments in my life have happened thanks to good old solitude. For instance, there was the teenager that I killed over by the dock. Or what about the time I stabbed a different teenager in the forest? There’s even the first time I murdered a teenager in my very own childhood room. If those teens hadn’t been alone, at least to their knowledge, none of these beautiful moments would have happened.
I also worry about the way that it can erode a teen’s sense of privacy. Before social media, if one of your friends wasn’t physically present, you just didn’t know what they were doing. They might even have been killed with a bladed instrument and then stuffed into a closet; or maybe something else other than that too. The point is there was privacy. Now, the moment someone mysteriously stops responding to any messages sent to them, all of their friends get suspicious. I ask you, is that convenient?
Sorry, I mean is that healthy? I don’t know why I said convenient.
Social media has even changed the kinds of identities teens have and the ways they express them. Things used to be simple: teens were either nerds, jocks, sluts or whores. You understood them and you knew which you were supposed to kill first. Now, I keep meeting teens with identities like “activist” or “shitposter” or “does fan content for a 1970s animated show I’ve never heard of.” Who am I even supposed to murder?
Look, I’m not anti-modernity. I’m a huge fan of many forms of technology, especially spinning blades. But all technology can have a dark side. Even spinning blades can sometimes hurt me, instead of teenagers. That’s why I think teenagers need to put down their phones, especially when they’re in isolated areas with dark pasts. Teens today need to worry less about how many bars their phone has and more about how many bars their windows have. There’s a world outside your screens, and only some of it, specifically me, is trying to kill you.