Tattoos & Social Media
I don’t know if your family is like mine, but I believe we all have one matriarch or patriarch that lives to dole out advice. Now this can be advice on money, oil changes, women, wine making or hand tools. Mine was Leroy Sylvester Dahl, one of three sons born to Ted and Gertrude (we called her Little Grandma since she was a tiny woman and dwarfed by my giant Swedish Great Grandfather her husband). My main memory of Little Grandma was that she always had very stale oatmeal cookies that were in a cookie jar on top of her refrigerator that she could barely reach and you had to dunk the cookies in milk or coffee to soften them for human consumption. Grandpa & Grandma Dahl, retired from Caterpillar and Ma Bell in Peoria, IL and moved down on Grandma’s father’s old farm in Southern Illinois. Grandpa was an engineer for Cat so even in retirement he was constantly working on the farm land and inventing things. He also had time to ponder tidbits of wisdom that he saved up for visits when his only grandson would visit. On one of these trips over to the Dahl Farm, Grandpa and I were seated around their giant round oak dining table. The senior Dahl looked me in the eye and stated, “Never get a tattoo, it’s easier for the law to track you!” I was never given an explanation for this statement, but I assumed since Grandpa served in the Navy during WWII on the USS Foote destroyer he had friends that did have tattoos. Either that or he assumed that eventually the law would be hot on my trial for some reason? I have certainly considered having a tattoo applied to a shoulder whether it would be Harley or Music themed, but I never could go through with it. A friend of mine recently said I should get a Lucille tattoo since that is the guitar most associated with me. I began considering how tattoos are like social media posts. I’m personally not big on posting my deepest darkest emotions on a social platform. I much prefer to share them with a close friend, mentor or family member face to face. In this new age that we live in social media posts can lose you a job, alienate friends, offend others, cause relationship problems and get you banned from Face Book (this is like the Survivor version of having your social media torch extinguished)! Even on Twitter and Instagram people can get downright mean to each other and say things they never would in person! What seemed like a funny post 20 years ago can come back to haunt the person you are today. Much like a tattoo of a beautiful woman on a sailor’s forearm when he is young that looks like Ghidorah the three-headed monster when he’s 50. Social media posts, images and statements are the tattoos of a new generation. Will a selfie of you exhibiting your worst public behavior seem like a good idea in your senior years? I’m immensely thankful that there were no cell phones or social media when I was growing up in Southeast Missouri. Most of my classmates and friends have been sworn to secrecy and some participated in the nutty things teenagers do. I wonder if at some point in time there will be companies that you pay to purge all of your bad historical Social Media posts and even add and create new ones that make you seem like a better and smarter person? It would be like a digital version of tattoo removal that either cooks the old tattoo ink out of your skin or turns Mickey Mouse with a flag into a menacing dragon? Face Book, Twitter and Instagram are great ways to stay connected to friends and family, but I also believe we should consider what and how we are sharing. How will we reflect back on posts that probably should have remained private? Kind of like a giant Harley Davidson logo tattooed on my back, nope not yet? Grandpa Dahl’s advice still holds up today many years after he spoke the words to me and it works for tattoos and Face Book or whatever new social media will engage the public next year!