Reading the New York Times this morning, I glance at the terms, "ego sustenance," and "social media" in the same sentence. I think to myself, "There we go again – criticizing people for using social media to boost their egos." I know I do! And I know why. I love the attention. Having received so little of it as a child, this is one of the ways to fill up the holes created way back when. I feel supported and comforted when people notice my status updates, or shares of one kind or another. And, oh gee! Don't all those tweeters out there just adore the brisk, urgent, quick second-by-second attentions they receive as re-tweets or favoriting type mentions for even the most banal updates?
So, rather than moaning and groaning about everyone needing "ego sustenance," let's turn our attention to early childhood care and education, and think about about how little acknowledgement we give to our youngest children? Indeed, I observe infant rooms all over the country, and see over and over again that from the day they learn to vocalize sounds before words children are being shushed and silenced.
Just yesterday morning breakfasting in our local bakery, an older infant in a high chair was intentionally knocking his bottle on the table. I could tell he was experimenting with the sound of it from the serious, diligent look of pleasure on his face. After the second tap-tap of the bottle, it was whisked – nay, grabbed – from his hands, and an irritated looking mother slammed it down on the table next to her far away from his reach. He sat staring straight ahead – startled and confused for a long moment. Then looked toward me. I smiled at him and he smiled back, a small sigh escaping from his lips. I imagined that as they were in an adult establishment – a bakery for breakfast, maybe the mother was worried he was making too much noise for the people around them. Us, for example. Young children's squeals and squeaks, tap-tapping of bottles and toys should delight us – like music to our ears. For what could be more amazing than a young child discovering their voice, or learning a new skill?
So, let's spend time – hours, dollars, human power – to educate adults with children – or those who have chosen to remain childless – that young children need attention. They need us to enjoy and celebrate the noises and messes they make. That way, when they grow up to be adults, perhaps they won't need social media as much as they do now for ego sustenance, and could use it for activism to change the world instead!