New col­umn: Michele A’Court’s ad­vice to girls

Come­di­enne Michele A’Court has some wise words for girls

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - Woman's Day this week -

Idid some stupid stuff when I was 18, but no-one knows just how stupid be­cause no-one took a photo.

When my daugh­ter Holly was grow­ing up, the worst thing she knew about me was an em­bar­rass­ing hair­cut I had in the ’80s. It was the least of my sins.

But now, dear daugh­ters, ev­ery­one pho­to­graphs every­thing and it all stays on the in­ter­net for­ever, which means we are all go­ing to have to learn to for­give each other for the dumb stuff we do when we are young. Start prac­tis­ing that with your friends.

That’s not to say I don’t love so­cial me­dia. I’ve met some re­ally good peo­ple on Twit­ter – some of them are so nice, they are friends now in the real world – and on Face­book, I’ve re­con­nected with friends and I stay in touch with fam­ily. It’s also a use­ful work tool – ter­rific for pro­mot­ing stuff I write and shows I do to wider au­di­ences.

But I also hate so­cial me­dia – the time it sucks out of my days and the oc­ca­sional nasty busi­ness where peo­ple shout at each other in ALL CAPS.

So I’ve in­vented some rules for my­self to try to keep it a happy and safe place.

I like to imag­ine that Face­book, for ex­am­ple, is a vir­tual “town”. I use it like a “library”, with links to ar­ti­cles and sto­ries I might like to read that have been rec­om­mended by some­one I know who has good taste. And there’s a “town hall” – posts where you can lis­ten to and talk about the things that in­ter­est you.

And there’s “my house” – my own Face­book page, where peo­ple are wel­come to come and chat, but only if they’re po­lite and don’t make a mess on the car­pet. I like a bit of ro­bust de­bate, but if you say the kind of stuff I wouldn’t want to hear at my real house, I’ll ask you to leave.

There’s a nifty lit­tle “delete” but­ton that lets you make any­one’s un­pleas­ant com­ments on your own page dis­ap­pear, and I’ve learned to be swift with mut­ing and block­ing the kind of peo­ple I wouldn’t ever in­vite over to where I live.

In­sta­gram is like pho­tos of your school ball – no-one re­ally looks that good all the time. Take a photo of your­self first thing in the morn­ing (no fil­ter) and com­pare it with the ones from your pre-ball. Your life isn’t a per­ma­nent party, right? And nei­ther is any­one else’s.

If I ever feel scared, I’m pretty quick to re­port it to ad­min. It’s not as in­stant or ef­fec­tive as di­alling 111 in a real-life emer­gency, but the more peo­ple do that, the faster they’ll learn to make these spa­ces safe for us.

When some­one tells me a se­cret (we all share se­cret stuff – that’s hu­man), I keep that se­cret, even if they an­noy me later. I’ve never sent a nude selfie be­cause nude self­ies weren’t a thing when I was young enough to think I looked good in a nude selfie, but I swear to you I’d never pass some­one else’s on to any­one else and nei­ther should you. I don’t know why any­one sends ends dick-pics. I re­ally like my part­ner, and I have lots of pho­to­graphs of him, but ev­ery­one looks their best in pants.

Now and then, I do a re­ally sim­ple thing – I log out of all my so­cial me­dia apps. That ex­tra step of hav­ing to log back is enough to en­cour­age me to do some­thing else for a bit. It makes you feel dizzy for a mo­ment, but it of­ten turns out the real world is way more fun than you re­mem­bered.

Michele A’Court’s ad­vice for young women in Woman’sDay fol­lows on from her best-sell­ing book Stuff IFor­got­toTell MyDaugh­ter,HarperCollins, rrp $34.99.

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