Foreign intelligence: a teenager discovers the good side of social networks

Editor’s note: (transcript slightly edited for clarity)

Anyway, I feel like parents always find a way to blame everything on the phones and on social media. Whether it’s their child getting bad grades in school, having a bad attitude, or literally nothing at all. That social media can have a very positive influence on teenagers. Help them find happiness, friendship and connection.

My name is Sylvia Korson and I am 16 years old. I attend Catholic Central High School in Springfield and live with my mom and dad, Amy and Scott, and my two cats, Alice and Mika. I am creative, energetic and a super friendly person. You know, when you’re young and you get your first phone or create your first Instagram account, your parents and your teachers, they all tell you the same thing. Be careful. Do not talk to strangers on the Internet.

My parents were very concerned when I first had access to social media, but what I remember even more than my mother’s thousands of rules and restrictions were the stupid introductions we had to go through at school. school every year. We would all gather in the loud, hot gym and listen to our teachers, we would give a presentation on how you should never, ever talk to strangers on the internet because they will stalk you.

The first social network I had was Pinterest, I saw this post about finding someone who would listen to you, talk about your writing. I figured it couldn’t hurt. So I sent them a message. Then one day he asked me what my hobbies said, that we read each other a lot but didn’t know each other, and that’s when we started talking. I found out his name was Archie. His English was so good that at first I thought he must be from an English speaking country, but he is actually from Pakistan.

One of the first things I asked him was What are your pronouns? And he said no one had ever asked him that in an introduction before. And just this little thing. It meant a lot. And the other morning, I was video chatting with Arki as usual, but aside from our normal chat about family members, the things we did in our week. I also asked her a few questions about our friendship and her parents’ rules on social media.

Sylvia: What were your parents’ rules about your phone?

Arki: Actually, I wasn’t supposed to talk to people, and neither was I. But then I was like, you know what? It could only go well. He’s someone who loves and is in demand for things to go well. And he did. And then I didn’t do them for a day like the longest. And then my mom accidentally found out when my mom found out you were in my phone you wanted to know you weren’t like some Nigerian prince trying to scare me or something. And what is it?

Sylvia: Do you think that helped us stay friends for so long and become so close, even though we never met in person?

Arki: Oh I think a lot of it, though, is that it’s a privilege and an effort because we both put a lot of effort into texting and calling each other whenever we could .

Sylvia: What if we met in person, what would you like to do?

Arki: I would like to continue as a bookstore appointment with you. It would be so much fun. Oh my God. Exactly like how fun that would be.

Sylvia: Yeah, we can have cute combinations, like dark macadamia outfits and stuff. Oh my god, yes.

Arki: And then you can love, go sit in a park like all the others in the 1860s. Yes, that would be perfect. Thank you. In this interview with me, you are all girls.

I think doing this story really, really helped me think about how amazing it is that I had to talk to these people who live all over the world and in Pakistan and France and the Netherlands in California , everywhere. I learned so much from talking to them and gained such a meaningful connection. I understand that for some people, social media can be a toxic experience, and it’s certainly not perfect. But I don’t think enough adults and parents know how overwhelmingly positive it can be.