Thanks for Reading Suburban Adventure

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Privacy- No Such Thing...

Christopher begged me for a facebook account. He proclaimed that all of his friends were on facebook and that it was strictly for social purpose I had recently told the children that we were putting our home on the market. I presented it as an opportunity to live in a neighborhood, perhaps have a pool and ride their bikes on a street that is not treacherous. Living in the "forest" was lovely but more suited for someone like my neighbor- the one I never see except when he is lighting a bonfire in his yard, or perhaps clearing out his fifth acre with a bobcat. I can tell he gets much pleasure and relaxation from puttering around his yard. The fact that he is often out there at 5:30 am confirms that. If I weren't out tilling my soil each morning,I would have never noticed.

All joking aside, my children listened and accepted my decision to move with grace and excitement. I always say that "it is all in the presentation", and it is. I tend to be positive nature and it has made an incredible difference in my life. I decided to add diversion to the situation by allowing Christopher to set up a Facebook account. With a little bit of reluctance and a long list of rules, I created a facebook account for Christopher.

His initial reaction was excitement as he added friends and laughed as he read their posts. I monitored the connections and attachments that were sent to him.I showed him how to remove wall posts should he not want them there and I emphasized that the internet and all social networking can be dangerous in a variety of ways. I even set up a meeting for my children with a detective who was a friend of the family. He came to my house and discussed internet safety with them It is a sad commentary on life that we have to monitor our children out of fear but it is essential. Christopher told me that he would only be using facebook on the weekends. He stuck to that which was easy for him as he was not overly impressed with the entire concept.

I have always been impressed with his maturity level however when he told me that he found it intrusive- I tried not to show my inner satisfaction. I was happy that he was a private person and he found facebook to be a waste of time. The idea of kids sending him surveys and silly games was unappealing to him. He despised that whatever he wrote could be viewed by everyone. I encouraged him to simply use it in a social manner and I showed him how to block content. I had to laugh as most Mothers were yelling at their kids to get off of facebook - I found myself asking him if he had checked his wall and encouraged him to go on chat with his friends. He just wasn't into the whole concept. He enjoys his privacy and while he has many friends, he simply did not feel the need to be involved. He asked me to delete his account and told me he may reconsider when he is in Middle school. This was to me the perfect outcome.

Giavanna on the other hand, is ready for her facebook account despite the fact that she is only seven. Her desire to chat with her friends and look at pictures and share stories is wonderfully alive. She often stands over my shoulder when Im on my facebook account. She suggests that I friend Justin Bieber and Keisha and Lady Gaga. She wants to read my page and provokes me to "like" shows like Witches of Waverly Place and American Idol. This girl is ready to start chatting and friending and linking and tagging. It amazes me how savvy our children are with all of the social networking outlets. Most kids have to have a facebook account to feel like they are cool. I think this is the case for many people.

I find that the desire to be involved with social media is extremely interesting. The youth of today know this to be a built in part of their culture. The older generations find it to be a new part of their culture, that they don't really know how or why they should embrace it. It is a world that perplexes them as they were brought up in a time that was far less intrusive.

Our society has indeed changed. It is reflective in all of the reality shows that exist. Im often hard pressed to find a show to watch that is worth watching. I really enjoy Anderson Cooper, Joy Behar and Charlie Rose and once in awhile I enjoy some light entertainment. I admit to watching The Karsdashians and on occasion the Housewives of New York.
Again, these shows are reflective of the society of today. We expect to hear people share their feelings and bare their souls. There is no privacy and one can be googled, oogled and zillowed in a matter of minutes.

It's fun to connect with people on such a personal level, but is it really all that personal if they are sharing the same information with the rest of the world. What- if anything are we supposed to hold sacred. I have heard personal stories from strangers that are very disturbing. In fact, it happens quite frequently to me as Im a friendly person. The other day we made a quick stop into a Subway shop. After we selected the type of bread, I knew it would be all down hill. I was held hostage by the Subway girl. Oye- I just wanted two sandwiches for my children. Instead, I found myself counseling a twenty something year old woman with a pierced tongue and a large, visable hickey on her neck. We- including my kids were told all about her baby's father and how she hates him and how she is now on birth control with her new boyfriend. Apparently she did not notice my children as they stared at her in horror. Christopher's eyes were glued to her and they shifted from her and then back to me. He wanted to confirm that this woman was extremely inappropriate. Giavanna simply stayed as far away as possible and would not look at her, thankfully.
She shared every detail of her depressing life. I tried to offer my advice. I told her to go back to school and not to have more children until she can take care of herself. This was all between the cheese and right before the addition of vegetables. She carried on and on and on, it did not matter that other customers walked in. There was no stopping her from sharing every single detail of her life with us. I don't have to wonder if she is on facebook. I was afraid she was going to want to "Friend" me as I paid for my sandwiches.

I clearly have a message on my forehead that only the downtrodden can decode. I suspect it reads something along the lines of the following.
"Hi, Im Michelle- please tell me your life story to include but not limited to any horrific or unpleasant experience that you have ever had. I like you and Im here to listen. Please whatever you do- do not hold back. I need to hear every detail and please... take your time."

I say all of this in jest but I do think it is important, as a parent to emphasize the importance of privacy. Our children are not given that message by society and are encouraged to share everything to everyone. I know writing this blog about my life and such is not exactly shielding my private life, however Im quite certain there is nothing floating out there that can be used against me in a court of law. Besides, Im already grown up and can handle what comes my way.

I was married to someone who shared our wedding, the birth of Christopher and many other extremely personal details of our life to an audience of thousands. They anxiously awaited for him to talk about his wife. I didn't like it, in fact I hated it. I was working for a dental implant company at the time and everyone in the office park listened to his show. If we had a disagreement, it was on the air. The good, the bad and the ugly- all shared with complete strangers. I forbid him to talk about my children or my family of origin on the air. Complete strangers would come up to me and hug me or give me gifts that were for my children. He clearly had a wonderful connection with his audience which is essential in the entertainment industry. It is however a very uncomfortable ride when you become part of the show.

Perhaps some would enjoy the attention as it is not much different than offering all of your information on facebook... well actually it is. I can only imagine what we will be exposed to within the next ten years. Hold on my friends, we could be in for a very strange ride.

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