I had a serious Get Off My Lawn moment yesterday when I read this piece in the NYTimes about teens sharing passwords with their girlfriends and boyfriends as a sign of intimacy and love and trust. You never realize how old you are until you shout DAMN KIDS at the screen in all seriousness. I’m a little mortified.
This practice isn’t limited to teens and young adults, of course, but it almost always leads to heartache and pain. The fact that we as a culture still feed teens the lie that their high school relationships are deep and meaningful and will last forever (except when they don’t) is partially to blame for this madness. When you’re in the throes of love, young or not, you always think that your partner won’t betray you.
But along comes that day when you have a fight, you break up, or someone cheats and suddenly it’s Armageddon where once private pictures are mailed to family members and embarrassing status updates end up on FailBook.
I know kids don’t want to take advice from adults on stuff like this, but I’m putting it out there, anyway: giving your partner your password is not a good idea.
No matter how much you love someone you are entitled to privacy, and your emails, texts, private messages, and IMs are private. You can be hella intimate with a person and still have your privacy.
Just like you wouldn’t want your boyfriend or girlfriend to be in on every conversation you have with your best friends, you don’t want them in on every aspect of your digital life. No one needs to be inside your head 24/7.
Now, since I know the kids probably won’t listen, I’ll co-sign this from the Times piece:
Winifred Lender, a child psychologist in Santa Barbara, had her three sons sign “digital contracts” that outline terms for how much media they will consume, how they will behave online and that they will not share passwords. Still, Ms. Lender said, her 14-year-old was recently asked by a friend for his password.
“He said: ‘You give me yours and I’ll give you mine.’ ”
Her son was taken aback but then relied on a tried-and-true excuse for saying no. “He blamed it on his parents,” Ms. Lender said of her son. “He said, ‘If I give you my password, my mom will have a cow.’ ”
Don’t have a cow, man.
… I’m officially old.