13 Reasons Why. Watch it, don’t watch it … but it is out there so maybe we should chat about it?

Teens are watching it. Adults are scared.

13 Reasons Why - Netflix series

Teens are watching it.  Adults are scared.

This makes 13 Reasons Why important…and it is important because it gives a fairly accurate picture of what is great and horrid about most teens’ lives these days.

I know…teens have always had great and horrid lives…they are playing with their newly found fiery powers.  Fiery powers always have great and horrid possibilities.

But these teens…you…you are the first…ever…to have been raised connected to the cyber world your entire lives.  The cyber world’s ability to fling open wide the gates to the great and the horrid have changed everything in terms of your social and sexual worlds. 

Most parents haven’t really known how to help you with the wonder and horror of that world…they were the first too…to raise plugged-in kids. 

So…mistakes were made…and you have suffered…and you haven’t known you were suffering any differently than teens who came before you…and parents haven’t known you were suffering any differently than they had. 

This is why the series is important…it illuminates this new world to teens and to adults. 

I am hoping it does for us what the tapes do for the teens and adults in the series…I hope it scares and wakes us up, and then educates, opens communication and empowers teens, parents and those who work with teens.  

Teens I have talked with about watching this series have not been inspired to harm themselves.  They have felt relieved.  The series helped them realize the problems they have been having are not because they are messed-up, but because the current teen social and sexual worlds are messed-up.  They feel constant pressure because so much of their social life is influenced by unkind criticism and judgement instantly posted and read by everyone.  They feel betrayed because their sweet childhood ideas of romance are obliterated by relentless demands for all things sexual.

These are not small issues, but, like Clay and Jessica, (the heroes of 13 Reasons Why), once they understand how messed up many of their cyber-inspired issue are, they don’t fall into despair like Hannah Baker…they get mad…they find their voices…they call out unkindness, assault, lies, gossip and stalking.  They also begin talking to the adults in their world…especially their parents…and they start getting help with bullying, isolation, and sexual inappropriateness occurring online and spilling into real life.  They also begin to forgive themselves and others for their actions and inactions.

I’m sure the series could push some fragile teens over the edge. This is important too. This show is very hard to watch.  The sexual assaults and the suicide are graphic.  I was traumatized just by watching them…and I am old and wise…and I have read the book…and I watched with my hands covering my eyes during the hard scenes…and it still traumatized me.

This is not a series you watch lightly.  It isn’t empty entertainment.  If you’ve watched it and have been traumatized, talk to someone to sort it out. 

If you have not seen this series, be very careful.  If you have had some trauma in your life I suggest you wait a bit.  You can read the summaries.  They will give you enough information to be able to talk about it with other teens, and even your parents.

Either way…13 Reasons Why has started some very, very necessary conversations, and that makes it  important.

 

 

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