Friday, February 10, 2012

Real Life Pitfalls of Social Media

I have been addicted to Facebook for a couple of years now. My habit when I sit down at my computer has been to pull up my Facebook wall and scroll down reading the various updates until I get to the last point that I have already read. Then I feel that I am up to speed on everyone's lives.

However, for the last few months I have not been paying as much attention to it. I scan through every day, but I don't read with the diligence that I used to. This is mainly because of my blog reading. I read about 50 different blogs and try to keep up with them, so I don't have as much time to keep up with Facebook. Plus, there is so much more information in a blog than the short little blurbs on Facebook. While one of my Facebook friends may mention that they are having meatloaf last night, blogger Jen of "Jen" e sais quoi gives a full description of the menu and ambience of her latest restaurant outing in Portland. Much better reading.

When I was spending my precious time concentrating on Facebook, my students and many of the kids in my youth group would be a little unnerved confused when I would ask about their mother's surgery or how the party last Friday was. They always wondered how I knew the things I did, but they tend to forget how public the information they put on Facebook is. I was not looking to see what that specific person was up to. I would just read my Wall and later when I saw them, I would remember what I had read. But if you ever do want to know something, a quick Facebook check will usually give you the information you seek. Generally, if you want to know what movie your neighbor is watching, you only have to scan their page or timeline to quickly find out.

It is amazing the things that people are willing to put on Facebook without regard for pedophiles, serial killers, crazy ex-spouses who may be reading it. We can read anything from the news of them getting a new pet to what they ate for dinner that night. Some people's posts are funny, some only use it to complain about their lives, some use it for political activism and others tell us what is happening every time they do anything.

Example: These people drive me nuts. They post 600 updates a day and never really say anything.
9:04 "Just got a new library book."
9:17 "Thinking about Chinese for lunch"
9:21 "Just saw Bobby. I have missed him."
9:29 "Construction on Broadway again. I wonder why the traffic cones are always orange."

One of the great advantages for parents is the ability to keep up with their children. If you want to know what they are up to, it is usually somewhere on Facebook. Every parent should know how to use this wonderful tool. If your child has a Facebook page and you do not know what is going on in their life, then it is your own fault. Mark Zuckerberg may not care about our privacy, but his lack of concern is very helpful in this area. Now when Kirsten leaves the house, I don't have to worry about who she is with, whether she is eating healthy, what her bowling average is or what state she is in. Facebook tells me everything.

However, this tool is not helpful if you don't use it. This fact hit me hard yesterday when I heard something in one of those rare face-to-face conversations. I couldn't get home fast enough to consult the all-knowing Facebook to see if it was true. About 5 seconds after logging on I found this.


This says Tuesday. TUESDAY!!! Kirsten has had a boyfriend for two days and her father did not know about it. When I picked her up at school, she asked me how my day was and if I written anything embarrassing about her on my blog that day. I said I didn't want to talk to her. She blew it off and laughed as she hopped in the van.

Me: "Kirsten, you are a big bag of lies!"

Her: "A big bag, not like a little lunch sack or a Zip-loc bag?"

Me: "Nope. A big, rotten, stinking bag of deceit."

Her: "Is there maggots in it?" (Can you tell she is not taking me very seriously?)

Me: "When were you going to tell me you and Steve were a couple?"

Her: "What? I did!"

Me: "No, you did not."

Her: "Dad, I put it on Facebook as soon as it happened. I told the whole world and that includes you."

Kirsten definitely understands the concept of social media. However, like many people her age, they forget about the social aspect of talking to people. Once it is on Facebook, it is public knowledge and it is your own fault if you did not know about it. Luckily, I added Steve as a friend a few days ago, so can keep an eye on both of them.



23 comments:

  1. I am SO glad Facebook didn't exist when I was a kid. To throw my parents off, I'd have to post to most boring stuff imaginable:

    * Going to watch a movie
    * Thinking about getting a bite at McDonald's
    * Definitely NOT waiting in the pakring lot at the liquor store for someone cool enough to buy us booze

    (Sobering thought: What if Facebook is just a front and there's a shadow Facebook out there that only teens know about and it's where they arrange drug deals and such?)

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    1. That would be scary and I am not so sure it doesn't exist.

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  2. Funny you write about this because I was just thinking about this on the way home Monday--how public fb is. Where we are, who we're with, it's a little scary. Your story is hysterical. I keep up with Bailey on fb too, but she's not quite at the age where I'm afraid to look at her relationship status. Yet...

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    1. It's amazing the things people are willing to post and they don't think about who can see it. I have one friend who always writes on people's walls to give them messages rather than send them a private message. On several occasions she has said things that really DID NOT need to be public knowledge.

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  3. I thank god that there was no facebook when my son was a teenager and living at home. I probably would have been banned from it by all his friends and their parents as a stalker. I couldn't trust him as it was! Now he keeps an eye on me on it. Haha.

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    1. Once they figure out how to use those privacy settings it gets scarier. They can post something publicly and block certain people from seeing it.

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  4. Im glad that I was the one that brought it to your attention.....well done again preach well done....be safe this weekend!!

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    1. It was you. I will have to return to being vigilant.

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  5. If Facebook had been around when I was in high school I would be grounded to this day, true statement. Glad you enjoy my culinary ramblings; tune in today for the most spanktacular doughnuts in the Western Hemisphere. "Mmmmmmm...douuuuuuunuuuuuts...."

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    1. I will be there. And honestly, I don't know how kids today do it. It's a lot of pressure. Luckily, I believe I have a good kid.

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  6. I've been debating my place in the Facebook world. I was going to delete my page until I figured out that it takes me about 30 seconds to scan recent updates. Very rarely do I see something important but I guess finding 1 important thing maks it worth it.

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    1. Facebook is usually how I found out that someone has died or is having surgery. There is big stuff on there.

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  7. Great post. Yeah, FB is a very useful tool to keep track of what's going on. Someone said that it can be a grown person's worst enemy, especially if they are single and dating, because there's just no mystery involved anymore. You can easily pull up someone's profile, see who they're friends with, and off you go. And a person can't really block people from looking nowadays, either, because they'll be asked, "Why did you block/unsubcribe/unfriend/unlike me?" Lol!

    But the technology is great. Without FB, I wouldn't be able to communicate with my hubby when he's deployed.

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    1. It definitely has a downside, but I have no plans to give it up any time soon.

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  8. I write posts about my dog and Tori Amos on FB. I usually don't care to read anyone's status updates, unless it's a romantic interest, which soon ceases to be one after I read everything he has ever posted. FB kills love and romance.

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    1. It is rare that I put up anything personal. I put up 4 or 5 posts a day, but they are usually sarcasm and jokes. I feel the same way. We don't need to know every thought that is in someone's head.

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  9. Great post. And thanks for getting me thinking about chocolate beer.

    Good lord I never would have let my parents be my friends on facebook if I hadn't been invented in the decades well before internet.

    How old is she? Teens need privacy to flirt and play out their identities without their parents. Is she allowed to unfriend you or is it a rule?

    If I had my parents on there, I would have totally said "going to my room to read and definitely not to trip balls and stare at the ceiling"

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    1. She is 16. She's a good kid and gives me no problems. I just like giving her a hard time.

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    2. She must have me as a friend, but she knows how to lock specific people out of certain updates or picture albums.

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  10. Yeah, we all know why Facebook is scary because of what we did as teenagers. And I am sure that if it was around in my day, I would have misused it to my advantage.

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    1. Definitely.Shadow accounts, privacy setups and false posts. I am sure some kids have got it down.

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  11. I'm not on facebook nearly as much as most of the rest of the world, and totally missed when my sister announced her pregnancy on fb! (2 years ago) Eventually when we were on the phone, she did ask if I had seen her status lately.
    Geez.

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    1. I used to catch it all, but have just moved on. I can't say I am sorry. I have nothing against Facebook, it just took too much of my time.

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