Things You Can Learn From a 4-Year-Old Before Throwing Shade on Social Media

My youngest is at the stage where he’s testing the limits of control. He is using words like booty butt and poopie butt, calling people stupid, proclaiming “dang it” over anything and telling me “I’m not the boss of him.” He thinks it’s hilarious or cute, pointedly looking at me (or the adult in charge) for a reaction with each usage. I refer to this as “potty mouth” which he understands means using words that are not appropriate. Clearly, we have some work cut out for us.

Fast forward to the day you’re in Hawaii and you take your kids to the beach with their grandparents, build sandcastles, play in the water, reapply the sunscreen, get the sand out of an eye or two, and then the next day you wake to pictures taken during those moments that are spread across the internet. In the blink of an eye your secret is out–your hubby is an easy on the eyes, chiseled and tatted, chocolate gumdrop. The TMZ headline read, “Magic Johnson’s Son Is Jacked” and with that, the internet broke.

Since then the post has been picked up and reposted by several other sites and initially, it was funny. The posts were harmless and flattering, and they gave our friends plenty of ammunition to poke fun at my husband, “jacked Andre.”

But now it’s not funny. The mean-spirited comments, primarily about his brother, EJ, and the notion of comparing them and almost trying to pit them against one another, are downright disgusting and hurtful. Are these people all just 4-year-olds using the internet to feel in control? Are they just looking around, like my son, to see who notices? To see if putting someone else down somehow does something or makes them feel any better? These comments are just plain mean and hurtful even when said by a stranger hiding behind a screen.

Each time someone suggests that they want to see more of Andre and “not that other son,” or that Magic Johnson is okay with EJ being gay because his other son Andre isn’t, it is infuriating. For anyone with a sibling who can relate to having someone in life that shared much of your unique experience, that speaks your family’s language, and has experienced many highs and lows with you, you understand. And to anyone raising small children and trying to help them understand the power of words, you understand.

EJ & Andre Johnson

I know much of this comes with the territory of being related to someone that’s uber famous and I shouldn’t pay any of these comments any mind, but that’s just hard when it involves a loved one. EJ is a sweet, big-hearted, quick-witted, young man. He can give a snarky side-eye and snappy one-liner like no one else and he obviously has a serious love for fashion, albeit an expensive one. He is also extremely genuine, caring and a good example of being true to yourself despite others opinions and despite the challenges that come along with privilege. He is such an amazing young man and we can’t wait to continue to see him doing “the most.”

The next time you’re feeling confident to post the first thing that comes to your mind, I hope you will pause and remember when you were 4 years old. Ask yourself these basic questions:

  • Would my mother approve of what I’m writing?
  • Is it kind and true or hurtful?
  • Is this person really affecting me so much that I have to tear them down?
  • What does this comment do for me?
  • Do I lose anything by just not commenting?

There are enough real problems in the world. We don’t need to regress to our 4- year-old “potty mouth” selves to gain more likes, appear quick witted and in control, or to feel better about ourselves. It is completely possible to love people, even strangers, even celebrities, where they are and if someone isn’t bothering you or you don’t have something nice to say, well, you know the saying. It’s that simple.


Published by Lisa Meyers Johnson

Lisa Meyers Johnson is the creator of Listen Little Girl, a blog dedicated to her eight-year-old daughter. Lisa created the blog because she knows that being a little girl isn't easy and becoming a woman can be even harder. She hopes that by sharing her experiences, thoughts, and life lessons, it will empower her daughter, and moms and girls everywhere, to support one another along the journey of being/becoming a woman. Lisa currently consults with nonprofits and teaches graduate and undergraduate students about public relations for nonprofits at the University of Southern California. Prior to this, Lisa was an accomplished communications, marketing, and development professional and worked for organizations including the American Cancer Society, Magic Johnson Enterprises/Magic Johnson Foundation, ABC, Ketchum Public Relations, and Black Entertainment Television. Find her @lisabrandgirl on IG, Lisa Meyers Johnson on FB and @brandgirl on Twitter.

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