Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Between you and me and our 2000 friends...

Facebook. We all have an account. Many of our kids have accounts. Truth be told, some of our pets have accounts. I may or may not follow a rusted metal chicken named Beyonce on Facebook. I stop at following a friend's sock monkey but that is simply because I have standards. Ahem.


I love me some Facebook. Where else can we keep up with our friends, poke people without fear of getting slapped, stalk the boy we were in love with freshman year AND make connections in our frenetic lives? Probably not on Google Buzz or MySpace, peeps. Not unless you are also unironically wearing pajama jeans, in which case...
But in all seriousness, back to Facebook. We almost all have kids on Facebook. Have you looked at what they are doing on Facebook? I mean, REALLY looked at what they are doing on Facebook? Because their world is a whole heck of a lot different than the one we grew up in or are in right now. We facebook funny stuff from Pinterest. We facebook updates on family and things we are thankful for and quotes from the Dalai Lama. We check on people we grew up with and say sweet things to our loved ones. We rant about the bad things in society and manage to normally keep our Facebook world fairly civilized. Except for the occasionally curse word that slips though. (Sorry, Mom. I really try but sometimes 'dagnabit' just falls woefully short.)

Our kids' Facebook world is entirely different. As in 'Stephen Hawking could not make up a further universe' different. 

This universe scares the pee out of me for several reasons. First, the friends they have. How many of our kids really have 623 friends, 1794 friends or 2020 friends? Seriously??? Are you kidding me? Your twelve-year-old or fifteen-year-old knows two thousand and twenty people well enough to include them in their everyday life? I probably could not name two thousand and twenty people if you held a gun to my head and I work with the public. So when our kids have that many Facebook pseudo-friends, they are basically letting COMPLETE strangers into our homes. And make no mistake, our computers are basically doorways into our homes, just no doorknobs or barking dogs to nip their heels.

Second- get over the sheer number and start looking at their friends. Are they really friends? REALLY? Just because they breathed the same air at an elementary school three years ago or because their best friend's big sister used to date that girl's brother- this does not make them friends. Have you really looked at who their friends are? Because I have looked at some and I am pretty sure that you and I would not want some of those people in our homes. So why let them on our kids' Facebooks?

Third- Have you looked at what they are saying? I know, I know. That is nosy. It is invading their personal space. It's intrusive and we should trust our kids. Yadayadayada. Get over it. Be nosy. Intrude. Get in there and stomp around and break some shit. Invade the heck out of their personal space. Because you may be able to trust your kids (pat on back) but what about the other ones? What about the twelve-year-old boy who is talking about how f***ed up he was on his mom's ambien? What about the angelic fourteen-year-old girl who is writing about 8-----D  and ()X() on her wall? (And if you don't get those references, consider yourself blessed.) And don't forget the bullying that you don't even have to snoop to see- it is all out there, posting on their walls at regular intervals. When is the last time that you really got into their Facebook and really looked at what those 'friends' were doing?

Fourth- the bullying. God help us, the bullying. I know bullying has been going on since the dawn of humanity but never before has it been able to get into the nooks and crannies of our kids' psyches like now. And I know it went on in our time. I remember Heather Wallin pelting me with rotten fruit in fifth grade and I would still like to kick a certain boy from high school in his dangly bits for his unending awfulness. Twice with pointy boots.
Especially really cute ones like these, but I digress. The bullying that goes on in Facebook World is scary. Girls say smack, such mean spirited smack, that goes completely unchecked. Boys are crude- they say things that would never get said out loud unless they wanted to meet the boot pictured above. And it is broadcast, not just for the moment, but for perpetuity and for all 623 or 2020 people to see, depending on the privacy settings. And that's just the posts on walls that kids feed off of and add to. Mix in the IM's and the awful 'Between You And Me' apps and you have a recipe to really mess a kid up over time.

Between You And Me- now, this is a perfectly charming app. Anonymous Facebook users post answers to questions on your profile and you can see their answers.  However, to see who wrote the posts, you have to first answer lots of questions about other people. Harmless, right? If the questions were harmless, yes. But they get nasty fairly quickly. 
" Is X overweight?"
"Is X ugly?"
"Is X unpopular?"
"Would X look good in a bikini?"
"Would you hang out with X?"
"Is X smart?"
"Could X stand to lose a few pounds?"

And they go on and on and on. Chances are, your kid has tons of these on his or her Facebook. Better chance, they have looked at them. And they have probably filled out a few just to try to figure out who said what about them.

So, my rant comes to a close for now. But really, have you looked at your kid's Facebook account lately? Have you had a good discussion about what is going on in their universe? Because if not, you should.

(And I really really want those Old Gringo boots.)
(And every single example I gave is real. Check your kid's Facebook account, peeps.)