The other day, I had one of the increasingly rare moments alone with my granddaughter. She has been going through a prolonged siege of the teenage girl crazies, a ghastly combination of hormones, boys, high school and high drama.

Clearly, she was in need of the best advice I had to offer, so I gave it to her.

“If you are going to be crazy, be crazy,” I said. “I was a basket case at your age too. Many of us were. It’s a girl thing. But trust me. You really can trust me on this. Everything gets better. Not very long from now, you’ll look back on this time and be embarrassed by some of the stuff you are doing.”

High tension wire, golden maple leaves framed by an azure sky.

And then I gave her the best advice I had: “Be crazy if you must. Just — for God’s sake, don’t put it online. Your great-grandchildren will be finding your Facebook posts and laughing their asses off. Worse, your future possible employers will be finding them too, not to mention your potential life-partners, business associates, friends and co-workers. Be nuts if you must, but shut up about it. Don’t publish it.”

I know it’s the current thing to spill ones guts on the internet. I share too, but only if I can make it reasonably elegant and I don’t mind who knows. Moreover, I’m retired. I will never again have to hunt for a job. I have the only husband I will ever need or want. My friends already know I’m a whack job and they love me anyhow.

But my granddaughter is 17. She’s got a whole life to live, worlds to conquer and all that drama published on the internet can turn into the stuff of nightmares.


Nothing ever vanishes once it’s “out there” in cyberspace. Everything you ever wrote, ever commented is going to show up on someone’s Google search. It gives friends something to laugh about and you something to blush over … but it’s also something for those who don’t like you to use against you. It provides easy ways for people to hurt you. If you are, as I am, past the age where you give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks or says about you, behave accordingly.

However, if you are still in the job market, still hoping for a career, especially if you are a teacher or any kind of public servant. Or looking for work in finance or something which requires a security clearance … Think carefully before you publish.

Nothing you put on the internet is private, no matter what anyone tells you. I can find posts I wrote that were supposedly private twenty years ago and newspaper articles in which I am mentioned that were published in The Jerusalem Post 30 years ago.

If it goes up on any form of social media or blog? It’s a land mine on which you will eventually step.

So be crazy. Be as crazy as you want. Just don’t publish it. If it’s unpublished, it’s a rumor. Plausible deniability applies. But if it’s published? You’re busted.

31 thoughts on “GRANDMA’S BEST ADVICE

  1. I HAD to do that stuff. It was reckless – it was careless – it was dangerous. And I don’t recommend it – if you can possibly avoid it,
    Yes, a lot was stupid and destructive and sometimes people got hurt … but I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.
    Yet if I hadn’t done it, that would have been the greatest Regret of all.


  2. This is excellent advice. I’m glad there wasn’t an internet when I was a teenager. I would have probably gotten myself in trouble. Kids need to realize that the things that you do when you’re 17 or even 18 can most certainly come back to bite you in the butt. Ask my tattooed daughter how much fun it is to wear long sleeves on hot days to cover her ink while doing her med school rotations.


    • They don’t understand that life is long and they are only at the beginning. They don’t believe they will ever change. I didn’t believe it at their age either. But I was much more discrete than my granddaughter and her friends. They carry indiscretion to an absurd extreme. It’s scary and I don’t understand why they do it.


      • They’re digital natives. They’ve always lived in a world where all of their peers’ lives are online. For them, it’s the norm. For us, it’s a bit scarier. We’re used to being more private and reserved.


  3. I was initially shocked to find every photograph I’ve ever posted on the web. A simple search could find them. Every forum and blog entry is there to read by all. I regret publishing some of my posts on forums flaming the idiots there. It’s all a learning experience, even if I am nearly 65.


  4. Excellent post! Such good advice. I’ll be passing this one on to my own teens left at home. Even though we’ve taught them to be careful, I’m not sure I’ve taught them the whole future employer/college thing. Like many of the others, I too am glad social media was not up and running when I was young. It’s a blessing and a curse. So important to know how to use it properly. Cheers!


    • I think most important to the youngsters is to realize everything in cyberspace lives forever. It never goes away. The problem for them is that they really live in the moment … fine. They need to LIVE it, not PUBLISH it 🙂


      • So true. I brought this up with my daughter and her friend in the car the other day. They were shocked to learn that what they publish can affect college and career. It was a good discussion. Glad you inspired it! Oma


        • It’s funny that they don’t realize that public comments can be seen by anyone, not just their friends. They don’t seem to make the connection. They are a strange combination of sophisticated and incredibly naive 🙂


  5. I agree completely. Nothing is ever truly private, despite security settings.

    And…..putting embarrassing things online doesn’t just affect your chances of getting a job. It can affect your chances of getting into a college, too. I heard a story where a student was accepted to a college and the college rescinded her acceptance because of what she’d put online.


    • And scholarships. And employment, especially those in which discretion is expected… All that blabbing will end up with you NOT getting the job. Kids tend to be in the moment and not consider how seriously companies take security. So much future heartache can be averted by not publishing.


  6. Excellent advice, Marilyn – and, had I started the blog whilst still a teacher, I would have been so grateful to receive these words. We are lulled into a sense of false security, I think – and feel that ‘delete’ makes us safe, and gets rid of the evidence (like a really good hoover!). Thank you for sharing this. xxx


    • If you want to see how true it is, google yourself … then dig a little deeper. It’s appalling. Every dumb thing you ever posted is alive and well. But not the really GOOD stuff. That’s gone!


  7. Gotta agree with you there – sharing in good, written expression wonderful – nude pics and long descriptions of teenage heartache only come back to bite them on that bare butt they shimmied all over the net. At my place in life it doesn’t really matter but for those who are still at the beginning of their journey it is important to be a little more discrete/careful etc. Your granddaughter is lucky to have someone who understands social media with all its good and bad points.


  8. This is the best advice I have ever read on putting things online. Fortunately I’m in my mid-fifties and, like you, am set with what I have and want (and don’t give a rats ass). There wasn’t an Internet when I was a kid – and frankly, I thank my lucky stars for that! I was so intense with my thoughts and beliefs back then. I would have been a post-and-regret type, I just know it.

    Cheers to you, and I hope your granddaughter sees the sense in what you’ve said.


    • I cannot BELIEVE some of the stuff she and her friends post … and they don’t seem to realize that everyone in the world can see it, whether or not they are “Facebook friends.” We all did a lot of stupid stuff when we were kids. Like you, I am SO glad there was no such thing as social media when I was being stupid! I can’t begin to imagine how much damage I might have done to myself and my future. Geez. This really WAS my best advice.


      • It might take someone she doesn’t want knowing her private stuff to see it and comment on it to ram the message home. I can’t think of any other way to whip those blinkers off. I guess that will happen. Something will. These kids presumably wake up to themselves, and something must trigger it. I hope that day – and the future – won’t be too painful for her.


          • Well that’s something at least. Your advice will make more sense to her, too, she’ll understand what you are saying. Hopefully, she’ll even pass the message on. 🙂


            • That’s the worst of it. Not knowing. This stuff can pop up anytime, anywhere.

              That actually can become quite a major social problem in years to come. I never looked at that before. I suppose lessons will come along, teaching kids where the quicksand is and how to tread carefully, right now it’s open go with no real guidelines out there. Pretty scary when you think about it.


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