Facebook.... the dread media of our age. It is everything and nothing all at the same time. As a writer, I wouldn't dream of publishing a book without including it in my social platform. As a person, it drives me completely crazy. I may have ranted about this before, and if so, please forgive me.
I have been a member on Facebook for probably 6 years and initially my reaction to it was tentative at best. I am pretty private, and certainly more so with a young child so I was ultra careful about what I wrote (and actually still am). What I noticed by reading through comments, though, was the differences in how people were using it. Some people broadcast timely and important information that would otherwise be difficult to disseminate; such as babies being born or a new job. Other people seemed content to use it as a photo bulletin board. Connecting with past friends was another driver. And finally, there were the friends who sent out insights into their daily lives.
It was particularly this last group that grabbed my attention, and not really in a positive way. When I read their posts I felt voyeuristic, at best, and more often simply left out. Did I care that someone was buying a new fridge??? Not so much. Did I care that two friends were commenting on the dinner they had together over the weekend??? Totally!
My issue, I know.... but still, it made me wonder what a kid would do this information. If I could feel that sensitive, how much more so would a hormone driven teenager? Of course this is not news. Many sources have commented on the danger social media poses to children. And I am hopeful that new technology will resolve some of this before my daughter is old enough to beg for her own page.
At the same time, I realize social media is not going away and, just as I have needed to find my own balance with it, so will she. As a mom, I will need to help her decide how involved to be, how to respond to feelings of being left out or boring, how to post information that is relevant yet not too personal, and finally, how to take criticism.
This last part is ultra-important and not easy no matter what the platform. Kristen Lamb wrote an exellent Blog post (link here) today about how to handle, what she calls, Trolls on your Blog. Not everyone has the skills to write what they believe in helpful, non-emotional terms, and reading remarks from these people, whether it is about a dress worn to the prom or a blog entry, can be difficult and daunting.
Ironically though it is exactly this skill that seems to be of critical importance in our world today. The ability to dialogue and debate, to share our beliefs and feelings in an open and non-judgemental way should be a required course in junior high (and we should make all of our politicians take a review course with the kids!).
Because, while I may be having a "funner 2012" than many, my guess is that it is only because I haven't checked to see how they spent their New Years.