Two weeks ago I went on a road trip with my friend Whitney to Ocean City, Maryland. We spent the weekend on the beach goofing off on the boardwalk and trying to keep our funnel cakes down on the rickety amusement park rides on the pier. On our last day before heading back up north to New Jersey and our jobs and responsibilities that awaited us, we took one last jaunt on the boardwalk and searched for souvenirs to remember our time there. At most shops along the beach you can find T-shirts, sweatshirts, and even sports pinnies, and then you can pick a design or a saying that you want personalized and printed on your new item of clothing. Whitney got a purple shirt with “YOLO” printed on it, an abbreviation of the saying “You only live once,” an expression very commonly used by people our age.
I was really excited about my selection as well; I picked out a yellow shirt and the design that said “I love Molly.” Of course, I was jazzed because Molly is my actual name, but the reason this design was in stock is because Molly is also the household name for a dangerous drug, the purest form of ecstasy. I bought the T-shirt as a joke, with no real intention of wearing it in public. I thought it was hilarious, but my parents definitely didn’t, and now the shirt is tucked in my pajama drawer, its bright neon yellow color away from the eyes of my family.
I don’t “pop” Molly, but sometimes people ask me if I do when they first meet me. It’s somewhat of an icebreaker and proof that I’m not the only one who is amused at the unsavory connotation of my name. I guess it has grown in popularity this year and especially this summer. I recently became curious enough to do some Internet research on my illegal namesake. Indeed, Molly as a form of ecstasy is roaringly popular, but its side effects are chilling. I heard an anecdote saying that popping Molly (taking the Molly pill) damages the brain so much, each dose is almost like taking ice-cream scoops out of the brain. Of course, Molly isn’t the only drug wreaking havoc on young adults. The availability of drugs such as Molly, cocaine, marijuana, and even heroin is something teenagers have to confront and hopefully, avoid.
It still is difficult though, especially when the Teen Choice Award for the summer song of 2013 is Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” a risque tune in which she casually sings about doing coke lines in the bathroom and dancing with, you guessed it, Molly. When the song came on the radio the other day when I was driving with my 14-year-old brother, Will, we were both dancing to it, but after the second chorus, I turned to him and said, “Oh my gosh, do you even know what she’s saying?! Never do that!”
Will is entering high school this September, and I worry for him. I trust his judgment and his commitment to the high-level sports he plays, but being a teenager these days is harder than it was even 10 years ago. He and I, and all of our peers must be hyper-vigilant about the choices we make. This goes without saying in the world of alcohol and drugs, vices that have plagued teenagers for years.
What we also must be wary of is our use of social media. Kids of this generation have to worry about issues such as cyber bullying. I don’t have a Twitter account, but my siblings do, and I know that anything they say or post could affect their futures, and as my father, also a William, joked, the posts could affect our family, too, “since we have the same name.” Anything that is posted on the Internet is permanent, but during such an impermanent time of our lives, this is difficult to remember and heed.
Social media also has the power to be physically harmful. There is a recent campaign for which Tim McGraw is an advocate, urging everyone not to text and drive. The “It Can Wait” pledge is a promise for every driver to not put their lives and others in danger by operating their cell phones and a vehicle at the same time. I’ve seen people I know do it, and luckily, no one I’ve known has been hurt from it, but it is not okay, and people lose their lives every day from it. Driving is a responsibility, but I’m afraid teenagers can become so reliant on their cell phones as to not realize the risk they are taking by texting and driving.
Teenagers of this generation may live by the credo “you only live once,” but instead of using this as an excuse and a reason to be careless and gamble with life in the name of fun, I think it is an all-too-tragic reminder of just how precious life is and how it can be gone in an instant. I’m sick to my stomach hearing of the young adults who die too soon, and I feel a pang as if it is one of my own friends because I know what it is like to be young and want to have fun. There is such an adrenaline-filled thrill of doing something dangerous, or posting something that might be considered inappropriate on the Internet, just to prove to yourself and others that you live a carefree life.
We are young, after all. But we also make mistakes and the consequences are grave. Cory Monteith, the actor who played the adorable Finn on “Glee” recently passed away, and he is just one of many examples of the fatal effects of drug use. It might seem simple; don’t do drugs, stay away from alcohol, don’t text and drive. Still, if you have a friend or child or sibling, a gentle reminder could be the difference between life and death. After all, you only live once, and saving a life always makes it worth living.