Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Avatars are our Friends

I've been blogging more than three years. I've obviously got a heck of a level of comfort with sharing with random strangers. [I think it dates back to all those wet T-shirt contests I did in college. But I digress.]

I use my first name often enough, and I use my husband's first name whenever I refer to him. I haven't used the kids' names since the prehistoric era, but I suppose they'd be locatable if someone had the mind to do so. I freely post all of our photos.

Although Pete accepts these peculiarities about me, I know it sometimes causes him angst. If something I've written does strike him as TMI -- even for an MBA in TMI such as MOI -- I take a look at it and try to make it right.

Damn, I ramble.

I noticed over the weekend that there was a page created for Daughter's and Eldest's middle school on Facebook. In less than 48 hours, the existence of the page spread like wildfire, and there were 50 fans of the page, nearly all of them middle school students. Nearly all of them just now a teenager or nearly. Nearly all of them with their adolescent faces showing as their profile pictures. Nearly all of them giving their real names.

SHUDDER.

And SHUDDER again.

What each and every one of those kids did was say, "Hi, I'm 11. I'm an innocent. I go to this school. You can find me there between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. I more likely than not walk home from this school. See these people? They are my friends. If you were to pull your car up alongside me and say, 'Hi, Lexi! Geri asked me to tell you that she and Jody are going to meet at the mall. I'm headed there now, after I pick up Geri. Do you want me to take you there?''"

SHUDDER.

There are registered sex offenders in spitting distance of the yellow-painted crosswalk at the farthest end of the school. There are sick motherfu#$ers everywhere you turn. One of the registered sex offenders spends a whole lot of time hanging out at the nearby public library, trolling the Internet. I wonder what his Facebook account looks like?

I do not see a predator behind every bush. [Which isn't to say I don't see a predator in every Bush. Heh.]

But is it wise to tell the world who you are, what you look like, who your friends are and where you go to school?

SHUDDER.

6 comments:

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

You know? I never would have thought of that.

The kids aren't getting Facebook accounts until they're 30.

Anonymous said...

Well put! I think it was Bill Maher who refered to MySpace as the Yellow Pages for pedophiles.

Jomama said...

Excellent point! I have a friend (adult) who uses a pseudonym on Facebook.

If the school is going to have a FB page, maybe they should sponsor an internet safety assembly...EVERY MONTH.

Jocelyn said...

Everything's kind of scary, really. I can get myself freaked out at a diner, when my daughter goes to the bathroom. So I feel you.

The alternative, of living guardedly and quashing all impulses to be free and connect with others, is pretty damn grim, too.

Only one small thought, which wouldn't necessarily stop everyone: my girl and I have a "code" phrase that any person offering to drive her...or walk with her...or chat with her...has to use--or else she is to kick up a hellacious public fuss.

Patois said...

I do let them have quite a bit of free range, and I'm less concerned specifically for THEIR safety than for some classmate who hasn't necessarily been schooled by a mom like me: someone who imagines scenarios and then tells the kids how to avoid it. (Horrible Example: If someone pulls a gun on you and tries to force you into the car, do NOT go with them. They will almost surely kill you. But they're less likely to shoot you with people around. Am I a joy to be with or what?)

And, yes, Jocelyn, I think that the alternative way of living would be quite grim. But they still won't get to use their photos in the FB accounts!

CrAzY Working Mom said...

...Shudder...I never thought of this either. We really don't know how influential that social media can be on our children's lives do we?!

*sigh*

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