There's a line in the first series of Girls where the 24-year-old lead character, Hannah (Lena Dunham) is prattling away during an STD test. She's being, as many 24-year-olds are, self-indulgent and ridiculous.
"You couldn't pay me enough to be 24 again," sighs the gynaecologist.
"Well, they're not paying me at all," says Hannah.
Time was, I would have identified with Hannah, now I shake my head and sigh like the gynaecologist.
I was reminded of that scene over the last few weeks. I quite fancy 24 again, actually, but you couldn't pay me to be a teenager, not now.
There's an awful lot I envy today's kids, an awful lot. Have you seen Lego these days?! And the ability to create, connect and co-operate is off the scale. But the last few weeks have shined a light on some darker corners of the teenage digital world and, God, I just really feel for them. All of them. From the boys with something to prove to the girls who think they have nothing to lose, to the ones who make a mistake and trust someone they shouldn't, to the ones who think they're just having a laugh but take things too far and before they know it, there's a knock on the door.
My own daughter turns 12 tomorrow. The last island before she hits the wild seas of the teenage years. Her dramas - while she feels them keenly - still largely look like child's play to my older eyes. I have a year with her still talking to me, still seeing me as an ally. With all the optimism in the world, I'm not an idiot. Mothers and teenage daughters are natural foes, she will hate me at times. It breaks my heart, but forewarned is forearmed, right?
So I want to make the most of this next year. And I want her to as well. Because the teen experience waiting for her carries all the same thorny issues of temptations and trials, social awkwardness and spots that it did in 'my day' but now giving into temptations and collapsing into social awkwardness can be captured on camera (and by camera, I mean phone) and broadcast to the world (and to the world, I mean most likely, their world).
And I just worry for them, and I think that we can all envy the opportunities they have and extol the virtues of their connected world, while at the same time hoping that the harsh glare of the smartphone camera light, or the backlit webcam, or the chat window, doesn't toughen them before their time.Suggest a correction