Sunday, October 18, 2009

the pandora's box of cyberspace

Last night I came across a facebook post from a young family friend basically accusing her mom of lying. No, actually it stated clearly in black and white: "xxx's mom is a liar." I immediately started typing a mean mom response, reaming her for disrespect and telling her to take it down and go apologize. I didn't get far though, realizing that my angry rant would be out there for all her friends to see. Did I want to do that to her? No. I thought about sending her a direct message, but didn't know if she checked them. I wanted to make sure she took the post down before her mom saw it. And then I stopped and thought about what I'd want if my daughter posted something like that about me.

I need to take a moment and fill in some relevant information. These aren't all-adults-are-idiots-and-I-know-more-than-they-do snark-filled teenagers. These are not yet 12 year olds. Just started middle school. Asserting real independence for the first time. Exploring boundaries. Testing rules. Pushing buttons. But blatant disrespect in a very public forum was too much. For me anyway.

This is one of the many reasons why I don't friend the under-age set on facebook. I don't want my wall filled up with endless quizzes, with inane posts saying "blah" and "blah blah blah" and "I'm so boredddddddd." Are you more bored if you use extra letters to stretch it out? Do those extra letters represent that you have more "hommmmeewwooorkkkkkk?" And honestly, if you're that "tirreeeddddddd," go to bed. Plus, not all my posts are rated G and I don't want to censor what I'm thinking. I made 4 under-age exceptions: my kids (so they could take over my Farmville account), our friend R, who's a sophisticated adult masquerading as a 7th grader, and this girl. While I get other requests, I respectfully ignore them.

I also respect that there need to be boundaries between parents and kids. As they get older, I can't (and shouldn't) constantly monitor them. I struggle with that now. I can't be the one to fix everything, make it all better, manage time. Friday I was at my daughter's school and ran into her English teacher, who said Iz's doing great except that her notebook is a disaster and is negatively affecting her grade. My first thought was to run home and restructure everything, but what good would that do? So, she's going in early one morning this week, to work with her teacher to work out her own organizational system.

As they get older I know grown ups, especially parents, will become the enemy—I remember how stupid I thought my parents were. For YEARS. How they frustrated me, didn't get me, made stupid rules, refused to see things from my point of view. But while I could rant in my diary, spew venom over the phone, or whisper angrily to my friends in school, there was just no way potentially hundreds of kids, and adults, could share my rage. And that goes for grownups too. Cyber communication has opened up a pandora's box of sharing too much information. It's amazingly easy to post, tweet, blog about the most personal of topics, almost as if we're writing in a diary. But we're not. This is a very public forum we're all a part of and once you put something out there, you can't take it back.

I got into trouble a few months for just that—frustrated with FLOW's progress, I wrote a less than constructive blog, not bashing anyone personally, just venting about how things were (not) going. And within minutes, it got ugly. There was bullying, threats, guilt, and apologies. I learned my lesson. Write whatever I want. But now I think REALLY hard before I hit the post button.

Not everything is for public consumption. And it's my job to teach that to my kids.

Day 20 is a wrap.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

I had very mixed feelings when the youngish daughter (12yo) of my cousin wanted to add me to her FB friend list. My cousin warned me that she would be asking me, and wanted me to be ok with it. But I felt a little weird about it, mostly because, as you said, there are many posts I make which are a little mature.

As far as my kids go, they still don't even have email addresses of their own, let alone FB accounts...