“You don’t know what you have got until it is gone”. A common phrase that everyone will have been told at some point or another. It’s applicable to pretty much all walks of life as well, from the unsung hero, to the all-rounder at work, to that friend who may fly under the radar but will never let you down when you need them most.
Most importantly, it’s a phrase that should resonate strongly when it comes to your family, especially your parents. At least, it does with mine. All three of them. And it is especially prevalent when it comes to social media interactions.
The relationship between a child, their social media accounts, and their parents can be quite a strange one. When social media first started taking off through websites like Bebo and mySpace over a decade ago, it was very much treated by parents with worry and disdain. These days, social media sites account for whole families amongst them with the most popular being Facebook, but also others such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. These sites can link us to friends and strangers all around the world and – since we all know that is is our parents #1 responsibility in life to embarrass and/or humiliate their kids – having parents on social media can be quite turbulent.
I used to be one of these people. When I was younger, I really struggled with having my parents on Facebook, and I really disliked it. Now though, the complete opposite can be said. I use different social media platforms for different reasons, and I’m linked to my parents through them all.
For example, Facebook is a streamlined version of my life that presents the exciting things that I am up to, and is usually used for communication through messenger, or for sharing photos of where I am in the world. It is, in most respects, the most professionally maintained representation of myself on social media and through it my parents can see the best of what I am up to.
My blog, this blog, lets them find out about details of what I have been doing that I may have forgotten to go on about when I last spoke to them. It also gives them the briefest of insights into what I am doing or what is consuming me, especially when I write a post for ‘Untitled Thoughts’ (the majority of the time, updates to this collection are written after a few drinks).
Instagram gives them sneak peeks at my daily life, of how I am filling my time. Occasionally – when my face features – it will let them see how much my hair has grown (fyi, it has officially been a year since I cut my hair and I am so proud of me).
However, I am most grateful for having them on is Twitter. See, Twitter is the social platform that sees me present the most honest reflection of my life, and the truest representation of myself. No matter what I am thinking, how I am feeling, or my state of intoxication, my inner monologue is portrayed on there. My parents, being the people who know me best, will often see this and from it can infer where I am at and if they need to get involved. It also gives them unfettered access to my desires, wants, and needs, as well as allowing them to formulate much needed advice that I still require more often that I would admit too.
It also allows them to continue being what they have been for the past 24 years; my parents. Although I left home to go to University at 18, deciding to move to the other side of the world at 23 is a completely different challenge to overcome, but they have supported me every single step of the way. As a result, the method of their parenting has evolved too, as well as my appreciation. Gestures that I may once have taken for granted are now the kindest, most wonderful things in the world that I am extremely grateful for. The gifts for my birthday being the most obvious example of this, as I received packages containing some things that I had either mentioned in passing during one of our catch-ups, or had rambled on about on Twitter.
However, one thing occurred the other week that I feel is the perfect summary of why I love having my parents on social media. One of my favourite fantasy authors announced a UK tour in the lead up to the release of his fifth and final book in the Demon Cycle, and he happens to be visiting Milton Keynes. Within 2hrs I was in a 3-way Twitter conversation with both my parents discussing about getting the books signed.
This ‘jump into action’ attitude is what I love about all my parents so much. The fact it was facilitated by a social media interaction whilst we are on opposite sides of the world is why I love being connected to them on these platforms so much. And the fact that it has taken all of their small gestures over the past 9 months since I left the UK is what has made me realise that I don’t thank them enough.
I will probably never truly realise what I have got in regards to my parents until they are gone, but I am using this unnecessarily long-winded blog post to send them the biggest thank you in the world. Thank you for standing by me and supporting me every step of the way of my journey so far. Without you, I wouldn’t have made the first steps that have allowed me to get to where I am. You have helped me back to my feet when I have fallen down and, for so so many years, you have always put me first.
I haven’t always been the most gracious over the years, but I am trying and I am hoping that, as time goes by, that there has been at least some improvement.
You three are the pillars that hold me up, and I can never thank you enough.