When you look up “community” or a “sense of community” you find:
“A sense of community is the feeling that members have of belonging, the feeling that the members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that their needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”
So when you join social media groups in your community, you go there hopeful there is an actual sense of community. A lot of times you find that, but other times you find groups that make you shake your head.
Some local groups that have made me shake my head in the past about what they allow to be posted. So given what we have seen unfold in this country lately, especially the assault on the United States Capitol, do admins of said groups have a greater responsibility to say keep the peace? And will platforms like Facebook take greater steps to address preexisting issues like stalking, bullying, and harassment?
Recent events have opened up conversations about First Amendment Rights in groups on social media platforms run by private companies. It’s not so difficult to comprehend the nuances unless you are being deliberately argumentative or obtuse.
Yes we have First Amendment rights, but we are on platforms hosted by others. If these others have rules, it’s their platform, not ours. We do not have inalienable rights to disregard their parameters. It’s their site, they just allow us to be on it.
Same thing for say closed groups on Facebook. They almost all have rules and they are governed by the rules Facebook tells folks setting up closed groups.
To me the whole argument of “well I can say whatever I want in Joe Schmoe’s group” is as ludicrous as the billboard company owner who used to say they had a First Amendment right to erect giant billboards which always begged the mental visual of them up there with a giant sharpie scribbling away, didn’t it?
I think social media groups have to be cognizant of what gets posted and keep an eye on it. And not just violence, undue profanity, and crazy political. Let’s not forget fake medical advice posts. One of my favorites came from a mom group advocating for bleach baths for kids with skin issues and doesn’t that actually constitute child abuse?
Being an admin to social media groups is like adult babysitting and you learn quickly that there are keyboard tigers who will argue about anything and everything. And then there is the online mob mentality which in my opinion since the onset of COVID19 has also spilled over more and more into the real world. Because social media and living online is not and will never be the real world.
The longer people spend solely on social media and online in general, the less their grip on acceptable social boundaries. You see that with professional and personal relationships.
Fostering a sense of community is a wonderful thing, but we need to keep it real. And we have an obligation to not tolerate sheer ugliness. We have an obligation to shut down online bullying as well, and that has not gotten better, it has gotten worse.
We can do a lot of genuine good. We can pay it forward for positive change in communities. We all just have to try.
I swear there is a meme for everything and this one is pretty much perfect. Why am I posting this? Because some people just floor me on social media. Facebook especially.
Backstory: a few years ago when I had my first knee surgery, I was literally just home from the hospital and practically still drooling from the anesthesia. Sitting in a daze in bed, I was mindlessly looking through social media on my tablet. I noticed this one woman posting comments on my Facebook timeline that I just didn’t want to deal with. So I didn’t say anything, I just deleted the comments. After all, your personal Facebook page is like your virtual house, right?
So the woman whose comment I had removed posted another comment in the same vein. There I was practically drooling like you can do after surgery and anesthesia and I wondered what alternate reality I was living in that this woman wouldn’t just get I probably didn’t want to deal with this? I made a decision. I deleted the new comment and quietly unfriended the woman and went to sleep.
Unfriending this person was not something I wanted to do. But when I was still sitting in bed the next day scrolling through Facebook still somewhat dazed post surgery, I knew it was the right decision. Why? Because she took the argument of the deleted comments and moved them essentially to another woman’s Facebook page (whom I also knew – ironically I introduced them to one and other) and sat there talking about me like I couldn’t see it. Kind of like they were talking on the phone only it was all playing out on Facebook. It was crazy and I decided, sanity and maturity should prevail, and I just blocked both of them so I wouldn’t have to see their online brand of crazy in the future.
Still part of me felt bad. I had known the one woman for many years. But knowing her was sometimes exhausting. The other woman was always just kind of sad always striving to belong. Also exhausting. I sent both women a note explaining why I had decided to distance. I figured I’d make one last attempt at salvaging the relationships. I explained to them I just had surgery and I didn’t want to deal with any of this right now. But if they wanted to talk about it, explain what they didn’t understand, and I would try to listen. Need list to say, that didn’t happen never heard from either, and I went on about my life. I wish I could say I missed either woman, but I don’t.
I especially don’t miss people who act like this while experiencing a global pandemic. Life is kind of stressful enough right now. What I didn’t expect was that they would do this again to someone else. I sadly thought this behavior was because of me. But it’s just them.
A very nice woman who is a very close friend has literally just had a similar experience with these two over the past couple of days. My friend had posted on HER Facebook timeline that it really bothered her that people including the President keep referring to COVID19 as the “Chinese Virus.” She said she found it offensive. In my opinion she’s not wrong.
No matter what your opinion is, my friend said it on her timeline. It’s kind of like when a lot of us don’t judge the women in menopause posting the Nametest things all of the time that says they wish they were pregnant again or what movie star they think they look like. Their thing, not ours.
To be clear, viruses do not know borders and even the CDC Director Robert Redfield agrees with this point. To keep saying that over and over puts Chinese Americans and other Asians in Jeopardy much like what happened with the Italians and Japanese during World War II and the internment camps in this country. Or the Irish need not apply campaigns and signs you would see in shop windows in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.￼￼ It’s kind of like referring to the influenza pandemic of the early 20th century as the “Spanish flu”. The virus didn’t actually originate in Spain that might’ve been one of the first places that documented it in newspapers. The COVID19 virus exploded in China, but there is no absolute that it is the true country of origin for the virus.
Well the woman I removed from my timeline a few years ago, of course had to argue with my friend. My friend politely asked her to kind of stop, and sadly that didn’t happen. So my friend just quietly unfriended her and blocked her and removed the comments. Below is the comment that finally made my friend have enough.
Now you would think that would have been the end of it. But sadly no, the other woman I had removed from my circle of friends a few years ago for chiming in where it wasn’t her concern did so again. Seriously:
So my friend unfriended and blocked the other one too. I truly am stunned at how pig ignorant people can be. It’s like these women have this whole tag team of nastiness, which is truly sad. ￼ I wonder if either one of them gets it yet that more and more people distance themselves from these two all of the time. They are having social distancing practiced on them as a matter of keeping one’s sanity.
My friend wasn’t “slamming” the President. She was specifically referring to a term in this whole coronavirus world we live in that she found offensive.￼￼
Given the times we currently live in and everything that everyone is going through, wouldn’t you think that these two women would have better things to do than to argue and spread vitriol?￼￼ What do they gain with these little Facebook games?
I am really sorry that this happened to my friend too. I remember how upsetting I found it briefly at the time. It’s like this whole sense of betrayal when people are so nasty. Then you realize no one is worth that crap.
Look, OK, we probably all have a more than small dose of cabin fever at this point. We are living our lives in a way we’ve never had to live them before. But when I look at what those who live through World War II have to say it just sort of gives you a whole new perspective.
￼￼ I can’t make people be kinder to one another. And I’m sure some will have￼ comments about what I have written today. It’s just one of the many things I am thinking about because face it, we all have so much time to think right now. And perhaps that is part of the problem. I don’t think some people are comfortable with their thoughts.
But I don’t understand with all that we have to deal with why these two women persist in doing this? All they are doing is isolating themselves further from people within their community and showing the world how unhappy they are. And that’s the thing that we are also discovering through all of this staying at home and self isolation: we are not islands unto ourselves after all. Humans need human contact and community￼￼, and it takes a global pandemic to realize it. So try being nicer, right?
I have always maintained that social media is both a blessing and a curse. It would be nice if right now with our every day lives up-ended indefinitely if we could try to make it more of a blessing than a curse.￼
If something annoys you or you don’t agree with it, you don’t have to leave a comment every time. Sometimes you can just scroll past it. That way people don’t fight and friendships remain intact during a very difficult time.
Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. ~ Oprah Winfrey
So why don’t we do that? It’s a question I asked myself recently and am going to strive to do better in the future.
When social media first started it was “What a great idea and what fun!” Today? Today I often wonder. It seems to be more and more the virtual play ground where the idiots you choose not to associate with in real life congregate.
As a blogger, I accept I am an acquired taste. I am fine with that. As a human being off the screen in the real world I am also an acquired taste. But if we were all identical carbon copies of one and other the world would literally be overrun with Stepford Wives.
As a blogger, I am not a compensated blogger. When I write up a business I visited, or a restaurant I ate at, or a non-profit event I attended it is because I paid to do those things just like everyone else. Well maybe not like everyone else because there are bloggers and social media “influencers” who are…. well… compensated. In other words their good opinion is paid for in some fashion.
When I write, it’s my own experience, good or bad. I bought the goods, ate in the restaurant, bought a ticket to the non-profit event, used the paid services of a company. There are people out there who do not. They expect goods and services and even fees to write something up. Sometimes businesses are afraid to NOT slide them stuff because of what they might write or say on social media.
There are even people who take money for supposedly all sorts of services but it is really just about getting free stuff and then moving on to the next business? I have a lot of friends with small businesses of all kinds, so that really bothers me. From a moral compass standpoint, it also bothers me. It’s like blackmail, isn’t it? How do you live with yourself? How do you take the proverbial food off of someone else’s table?
Now onto the more personal side of social media. Why are the keyboard tigers allowed to roam freely and wreak havoc?
I am an admin of several Facebook groups. I have strong opinions so I do not mind strong opinions. But I do mind people who harass, badger, curse a lot (so ugly to see in writing) or who are just mean spirited to be mean spirited. Or love to be super passive aggressive while just simply trying to stir the pot.
Recently I just quietly deleted the comment of a man who was just being an ass. To me. For no reason. I had never spoken with him or even interacted with him online. The comment was essentially abusive. I chose NOT to respond which would have started an online flame war.
In online forums and other online discussion spaces, a flame war is a series of flame posts or messages in a thread that are considered derogatory in nature or are completely off-topic. Often these flames are posted for the sole purpose of offending or upsetting other users. The flame becomes a flame war when other users respond to the thread with their own flame message.
I chose to be an adult and admin for the greater good. I never said anything, just removed the comment and took advantage of Facebook’s mute feature which is a handy tool if used properly to cool off a situation. Well, the person who commented then decided to start private messaging me.
Note the use of your over you’re. Up until this point I had not removed the person from the group. Just muted them for flaming comments. Who they are is immaterial to the conversation. They were a stranger with a case of keyboard cowboyism. After sitting on the interaction and pondering it with other admins, we decided they would be happier elsewhere.
One of the groups I admin is a gardening group. It is large and popular and has grown from local to regional to national and international membership. I wanted a place where people could come from all levels of expertise and even professionals.
My group is blessed to have not only regular people but gardening professionals and growers who freely share their knowledge and expertise. A good portion of them are paid for their expertise handsomely so I think we are really lucky. I am a rabid gardener but I don’t know everything so I like to learn and share information.
Sometimes even in a gardening group people get like the Sharks versus The Jets. Yes, a theater reference. West Side Story — an award-winning decades old adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”. The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs. And that is what people get like on social media.
There was this thing happening in the gardening group that really was so ridiculous. This divisiveness between organic based gardeners versus everyone else. Someone who was a professional posted about their own HOME garden with a helpful tip. A person I had had problems with before started challenging them. The professional never lost their cool and answered all questions gracefully.
But the aggressor, who had demonstrated a similar pattern with others in the past, wouldn’t let it go. It turned from a conversation of opposing points of view to badgering. It was unpleasant. This person doing the haranguing hadn’t learned from the comments other admins had removed, so this time I muted them. And told them I was doing it and why.
They never said anything, but their supporters then started. It was unfair and they should basically be allowed to turn a nice group into a place where many felt uncomfortable. One of the champions of this person started messaging me. They literally messaged me yesterday at 9:32 AM. I did not see the message until 10:04 AM or maybe a few minutes later, because hello I was having an actual life. Do you live on the Internet? I don’t live on the Internet. I spend far too much time on it some days and I am making an effort to NOT be that way. But when you are an admin of Facebook groups especially, people seem to have boundary issues.
So this person who messaged me was responded to. But that wasn’t good enough. They had to then try to start a passive aggressive situation of their own on the gardening group page. They wondered if they were “safe to post” like a pack of rabid dogs was suddenly going to appear on their doorstep and rip their keyboard, phone, or tablet from their hands. As an admin that is a post that will escalate tensions that may exist.
I messaged the person and asked WHY they had to post that when I had actually taken the time to respond to them. My description of the timing was different she says. Ok she lives in my area is there a different time zone I am not aware of?
Then she says:
Not sure where the disconnect here is coming from, but blessed are the peacemakers. Peace.
BTW, the word “ramblings” implies a kind of laid back, relaxed enjoyment of gardening. So, maybe chill out.
She goes on to say how she is just “speaking her truth” and she’s a “stream mom” and so on and so forth. And how I was wrong to mute the person who had been badgering people about…gardening.
No honey, I am not perfect and I get tired of being a babysitter. And with a couple of thousand people to manage virtually, some days it is exhausting. One gets tired of being a babysitter and a referee of adults who should all know better. But for some reason when it comes to social media they lose their manners and inhibitions….. social norms and acceptable public behavior flies out of the window. It is crazy. And face it, we have all seen people go off the rails. Not naming names but look at a certain elected official on Twitter, right?
Having had enough of this back and forth, I blocked that person on messenger and removed them and the admins had to create a new rule so people got it:
New Group Rule as people seem confused: aggressive or passive aggressive comments towards gardeners for their decision to use biological (organic) or non-organic chemical controls in their garden will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be removed.
It’s a gardening group folks, not an environmental activist group. No one should be chastised for their gardening methods on their own property.
We all do not have to agree but just because someone chooses organic vs. non-organic or vice-versa does not make them a bad person.
Babysitting. Babysitting I do not get paid for and toddlers are better behaved at times.
It’s the love hate relationship with social media.
Then there are the people who capitulate to the whims of the social media haters and badgerers.
Years ago (as in 2013) I was part of a closed Facebook group still from where I used to live. I was still new enough to Chester County that I wanted to keep up with where I had lived essentially most of my life. Moving to a place as an adult over 25 is very different than when you are young and starting out. It is not as easy to meet and get to know people and although I had already fallen in love with Chester County, I sometimes still missed where I used to be because I missed a lot of my friends.
I did not, however, miss the BS of the Main Line. And long before I moved west, back in the early days of Facebook I decided that some people I did not wish to interact with on social media because they were horrible to me in real life, even in public. You see, that was a drawback of being a blogger and a sort of social activist.
There were literally people who would eviscerate me in public and in letters to the editor of the local paper at the time as well as leave comments on local and regional media website articles that were truly horrible. They weren’t just being Internet trolls, they were bullying and harassing me. They wanted to tear me down because at the end of the day I did not see things exactly the way they did and the way they told their minions to think.
It was a great sociological study. It was taking the theory of bullying in the middle school lunch room to a whole new level. And these were also the people who would holler like stuck pigs if kids were bullied in school or on the playground. And I would just watch and wonder why they didn’t get where the kids were learning the unpleasant behaviors from?
So when I joined Facebook, I decided rather than risk further interaction with some fo these people, I would take the high road and just pretend they weren’t there and preemptively block them. I wasn’t talking about them, I just wanted to limit their access to me personally. I am not a public official and wasn’t then either. I was just a woman they didn’t like very much. I could live with that. Not seeing them around on Facebook was very peaceful. Of course, that is why Facebook has privacy settings, right?
Lo and behold the admin of this community group from where I used to live messages me. How she was going to have to remove me from the group. Not for anything I had actually posted (which by 2013 was literally a couple of banal things like recommending a plumber), but because I had chosen to block these people who were miserable to me in the real world when I joined Facebook.
I tried to explain to her that was to keep the peace, I wasn’t blocking her as an admin and group page owner. I was being responsible in an effort to avoid unnecessary online confrontations. But oh no, her definition of community was she chose to capitulate to literally adult mean girls and they had the right in community groups to see everyone. I tried to explain I chose not to do that because I did not wish to have them have a window into my life.
Truthfully, I did not care about her group and belonging at that point. I really didn’t need it, I was fine in my new life and her actions made me realize that. But it was the principle of the thing. How can you self-profess to be a good person by demanding they open themselves up to unpleasant people in a social media group? (But this is a person who wants everyone to love them and needs to feel as if they belong, so in a weird way it made sense, didn’t it?)
The rules of social media groups in general include you can’t block the admins and moderators. But you CAN block people you don’t get along with or who make you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason. It is WHY privacy settings exist.
A couple of years ago, I decided to quietly unfriend this person on Facebook. We really were never truly friends, maybe short term acquaintances. So I decided to let her and some others go. Lives change, people change right? I never commented on it, I just let go.
Then yesterday, someone asked me about the garden group this person had. They lived down closer to where this person lived so I said sure, I will send them the link I used to belong to it. Only I could not find the group. So I asked someone else and they sent me the link. They also told me I was no longer in the group.
A real WTF moment because it is a gardening group. Not politics, not activism. Gardening. As in what I spend a lot of time doing. And I hadn’t been in the group, had never really posted in it ever and truthfully had never used the group much to begin with because to be honest I never learned anything from it. It was too basic for my knowledge base, and well, my group was better. But for whatever reason this person removed me and blocked me.
Oh social media Groundhog Day. So I will admit I did message her about my discovery and how I discovered it. I also said I really didn’t care that she did it, but the principles of hypocrisy is what bothered me. So I said to be equally fair I was removing her from my gardening group. Sorry not sorry, you don’t get to benefit from my hard work and the expertise of those who post there and not share. Not being able to share when it comes to gardening is just one of those things I find wrong.
Much to my amusement, when I went to look at the message I sent I saw that she had blocked me. I still have her home address, I should really send her a thank you note. I do not need people like that in my life on any level, even peripherally. Kind of like the woman who made a point of telling me that she couldn’t invite me to her Christmas party because other people wouldn’t come if I was there. Yes, that is true. Crazy, but true. And I didn’t ask to be invited in the first place.
Also crazy but true? Legitimate cyber bullies and cyber stalkers. Social media is a kaleidoscope of crazy at times.
And that is the thing about social media. So many people need it to feel good about themselves. Or feel popular. Or even powerful. But it’s all virtual. I have come to the conclusion that I will more and more narrow my focus. I have my writing, activism , love of historic preservation and things like gardening and cooking and photography. I also have my true friends and I don’t need a huge collection of faux friends to fawn all over me. I don’t need or want the self-proclaimed power brokers of people online, and those who take advantage…do you? (Think about it.)
Another thing that is getting to me on social media are the essentially social media based networking organizations you have to pay for. Women are especially drawn to them and I have had friends who have belonged to these groups.
Women don’t realize they don’t have to pay these groups to raise their own business profiles and make friends (which exist mostly on social media – I can’t truly define it as camaraderie in real life can you ?) And no one I know ever grew their business out of these groups but instead remarked on the cliquishness and time wasting of it all…and that these groups are expensive. You pay to join a group, you get let into their Facebook pages, then you are expected to pay to attend events, right? And what do they do for you? Who is making the money here and aren’t the chapters of these things like, if not actual franchises?
Social media is a weird, weird place getting weirder every year. And I say that having been in it and on things like Twitter practically since inception (I joined in 2008, Twitter launched in 2006).
I started blogging back in the dark ages. I was once part of this amazing site called Philly Futures which started in 1999. I joined it at some point after 2002, and was part of it for a few years. It was lots of different bloggers and was activism-centric. They used to do things I thought were cool like Missing Monday which focused on missing persons. Philly Futures was an early voice in the genre of “citizen journalism.” It wasn’t a mommy blog or a monetized blog, it was a lot of good writing and interesting topics. I miss it.
Sometimes I think social media has morphed into the land of the shallow. And everything has to be light, happy, and airy fairy where unicorns fart only pastel rainbows. What I liked about the early blogosphere in the dawn of social media is it was real, and you could be real without chronic online castigation.
Look around at Facebook, Instagram, whatever your poison. How can all those people have those perfect lives, really? What happens if we pull the curtain back? And the photos. Do some not realize that occasionally their personal photos are well photos that are better off left offline? To be enjoyed privately?
I am a blogger, yes, but I am still a fairly private person. I like enjoying my family and friends offline. You can’t grow a garden online. You can’t cook a meal online. You can’t go barn picking online. We can’t spend all of our lives online. Maybe it’s time to liberate ourselves somewhat from social media. We used to exist fine without it, after all.
Think about it, when is the last time you wrote an actual letter? I am going to hang out in my garden and commune with nature and check out butterflies. I will leave you after this rambling post with an online article about types of Facebook posters. It’s very funny.
Humorous Caricatures of Social Media Users Social media has existed since the earliest times. Imagine, if you will:
An early, nomadic hominid, scratching an image onto the wall of her cave-shelter. Picture her wonder, joy, and surprise when she returns, a season later, to find an image left by an unknown “other”.
There, on the cave wall, is an “answering image” — with splashes of colour. She has no idea who “commented on her wall post”, but she knows she’s not alone. There has been a response to her unintended friend request. She is experiencing shared humanity and kinship, beyond the immediate circle of her tribe.
Over the years, they may have gone on to share information. I imagine them sharing hunting stories, food storage ideas, and even recipes. I see them inspiring each other to greater creativity by means of their developing art. Maybe, they even shared some personal details.
Did other people, passing through, add to the story on “her wall”?
Basically, humanity has been obsessed with “social media” ever since.
As cultures and technology developed over millennia, so did long-range social interaction. Passed messages, and formal mail services replaced cave paintings. Books spread thoughts and information to larger numbers. Telegraph, telephone, newspapers, and radio, further widened global information sharing.
….Social media, of various kinds — for good or bad — has become integral to our society. For people in my age-group (50s — plus or minus), that usually means Facebook.
Years ago when we were in our dating and going out dancing days, one of my friends was the subject of a Glamour Magazine article on blind dates (seriously.) Now this was before the advent of social media, etc, so people literally wrote letters to comment on an article. The letters I saw on this article were hysterical.
The letter above (redacted to protect the memory of the person who wrote it and the person who forwarded it to my friend) was sent to the magazine and subsequently forwarded to my friend, who then forwarded it to many of her friends. At the time we had many giggles over it.
Flash forward to today. Twenty-one years later. Too funny.
I will note my friend has been happily married with her own family forever at this point. She met her husband on a blind date, I am fairly certain. As a matter of fact she and her husband have this wonderfully sentimental practice of renewing their vows regularly – on vacations, and with friends. I believe the count is 60 vow renewals as of this past February!
The woman who wrote the letter died in the early 2000’s. She never married, and her career was amazing.
Anyway, I stumbled across the copy of the letter my friend sent to me long ago and wondered what happened to the person who wrote it. We could never do that as easily back in the day.
This fell out of a cookbook where I had stashed it who knows how long ago. File under the things you stumble upon.
Social media is a window into the growing use of Juuls. In June, there were 10,000 Juul-related posts on Twitter. By December that number had climbed to 150,000, Dobbins said.
Locally, a video of two Conestoga High School students that has made the rounds on social media, more for the use of racial slurs, also shows one of the girls using a Juul.
In an email, officials at the Tredyffrin/Eastown School District in Chester County stated that using a Juul “would be considered a code of conduct violation, which would be enforced.”
Calls to local school districts, including Philadelphia, about Juuling on campus went largely unanswered — though two Montgomery County districts acknowledged the use of the product in their schools.
On Tuesday, wellness counselors in the Lower Merion School District sent a letter to middle and high school parents about the Juuling trend, suggesting parents talk “openly and honestly” with children about not only Juuling but also drugs and alcohol.
Ok now two excerpts from articles on the whole N-word situation:
DEVON >> A video featuring some Conestoga High School students casually using the N-word is now the focus of a school board investigation.
The video, which was not made during school, is going viral – and not in a good way.
The video shows two white, teenage girls who are apparently vaping, using the N-word and laughing. The video has been widely shared on social media like Facebook and Twitter. The two girls have not been identified.
I received several copies of the recent live social media post by two Conestoga High School girls with racial slurs. The ‘white’ girls use the “N”-word multiple times in the racially offensive video which has since gone viral.
For African-American students living in some parts of the country, the use of the N-word by their white peers may be routine. But I admit that in 2018, living in the T/E School District, I found the racial vitriol of the video shocking and extremely disturbing. Am I naive to think that this video by a couple of Conestoga High School students is an isolated situation or … is it symptomatic of a bigger problem in the school district?
Following the video going viral, the T/E School District families received a letter from Superintendent Gusick which contained the following message, “T/E School District strongly condemns this and all forms of racist language. Although this video was not made during school, it has hurt and offended many in our school community. This is unacceptable behavior, and it will not be tolerated. The school will investigate fully and apply consequences as appropriate. T/E School District will continue to stand for respect and inclusion, with schools where all are welcomed to learn and grow.”
Now one of the girls wasidentified. And her father posted a public apology. One has to feel his pain as a parent.
The actions of two teenage girls are going to have very extended consequences. As I peered into the social media of it all, I was struck by something profound that a friend said to me:
I’m not saying in any way that what these girls did was OK – but the level of hate towards them is close to a lynching mob.
I have to agree. Hate begets hate but somewhere we all as a society need to pause and think, don’t we?
Someone else said:
A number of problems have surfaced in this district but schools generally reflect the norms of their community rather than form them in a vacuum.
Also somewhat true.
I feel I have to ask why is it that only the girl who was the field hockey phenom on a fast track to UNC as an early field hockey commit was named by name? Two girls are in that video.
And let’s step back and look at the other lesson here: two teenagers have learned that actions indeed have consequences and words do wound.
Words wound. Actions have consequences. Teenagers are of the invincible age. They imagine they are like teflon and nothing bad can happen.
Uhhh d’oh. Just because you think it’s cool to be an ass on social media, it doesn’t mean it won’t follow you.
Kids today live in a different kind of scrutiny filled world. Instant communication is great, but now look at two teenage girls who have in essence, tanked their cozy little worlds for transmitting ignorance.
Someone else said to me today:
These girls were probably at home when they posted this video, not at school. So I don’t quite understand how it is the fault of the school district and not the parents. …There are so many good things that happen at Conestoga and so many amazing kids that go there. Just hate to see them all affected by the foolish actions of 2 students…please do not throw all the kids into one bucket. Take it from me, there are a lot of good things happening at Conestoga, You just don’t hear about them!
So we are back to the power of the Internet. Which, incidentally, is why we all hear about the negative things so often at Conestoga. And we have heard about a lot of negative incidents coming out of this school and the corresponding school district over the past couple of years, haven’t we? And while not indicative of every student, every teacher, every coach, and all parents it certainly does make one pause and wonder about an unpleasant culture that pops up every now and again, doesn’t it?
Expressions of hate aren’t cute little things to be tossed around while giggling with your friends. Words wound and these are words that are just a big bag of wrong.
People speak of social media boot camps. I think they should develop them for middle school and high schools everywhere. Make parents, educators, and students attend.
And as for the parents who will say things like they didn’t know. Ok look, I am the step-parent of a teenager. They are the secret society. They communicate by text and various social media platforms and via their gaming systems . But we are the adults. And while we should resist the urge to be prison wardens, we need to be present.
Parents need to be clear that actions have consequences. Parents need to set boundaries. Have difficult or awkward discussions at times.
Teenagers need to realize that social media can and will follow them. Even adults are turned down for jobs and even relationships because of what people see on social media.
Trust me, I know. I am a blogger.
I have the video the girls posted. I was going to include it on this post, but decided NOT to include it.
I want to have a different conversation, and that is the conversation of how we can all work together as an extended community wherever we live to strive towards ending this crap.
We as the adults in the equation need to set a better example for the future generations. We live in a crazy volatile world, as well as a crazy politically volatile country.
We need to teach our children well.
We need to appreciate differences in other.
And from the Lord’s Prayer:
And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us.
I don’t know what else to say except, this whole situation saddens me. I feel like this country is spiraling out of control and it is reflected on every level of society and age group.
I am going to sign off now. I have struggled with this post for hours. I felt I had to write, but even now I wonder if in this situation are any words the right words?
Who else wishes that sometimes the easiest way to communicate with the teenagers wasn’t to send them a text even when you’re in the same house?
I am like the land of no fun in our house some days I think. And today I’m sure I will be even more because I decided it’s time for a mom vent. We’re allowed even as step parents, right? Where is my parental “dislike button” that solves all problems instantly in forever LOL? What??? There is no magic wand or button? No magic app? Come on! Sonot fair!
Take video games. I really don’t like video games, they have never intrigued me. I am definitely considered square as a result by the males in my house. What they don’t seem to get is I have less of a problem with video games, when things happen in moderation. But if you have a teen who is super into gaming, moderation goes right out the window. And all fairness to teenagers, I have seen adults do the same thing. It’s like they get sucked in and their brains with it.
And if left to their own devices kids totally into video games will literally game an entire day away or until their eyeballs bleed, whichever happens first. And some times they don’t even stop to eat or have anything to drink. And after a couple hours straight, they can get downright cranky, yelling at the TV screen and so on. And of course there is that social aspect where all the teens meet in their virtual world of gaming and talk to each other through their headphones. So how do you strike a balance without being the bad guy?
Which is why when to comes to videogames I think a bank of hours works best. When the kid goes through the hours it’s their time management lesson. Sounds harsh but I almost miss the good old days when they went outside or read a book or had an actual conversation.
Next up? Social media/chat programs.
A friend of mine commented recently on how she thinks teenagers today are actually missing out on old school dating rituals for lack of a better description. She talked about the “good old days” when you took your girlfriends to check out a guy or vice versa, the furtive late night phone calls, and the fact that we have such awesome music to choose from growing up!
Here, I found it. This is what she said:
“Perhaps technology is taking away from the teen crush/dating experience. So many ways to communicate without the dreaded visit or phone call to the love interest’s house and through the parent “screening process” or the visit to their (potentially rival) hang out (like a pond or park) and through the friend “screening process.” This, combined with bad music, makes me feel badly for them.”
To that I add they are missing out on the talking and having actual conversations that enable them to truly get to know each other because all they do is TEXT. And I also wonder if that has something to do with how dates are planned now, which is often fairly last minute.
There are a million chat and text programs and apps out there. They change as quickly as clothing styles and hairstyles. Apps come in apps fall out of fashion. Do you really know what your kids are doing on any of these apps or programs?
Where is the balance of giving them their privacy but wanting them to be safe? Some parents are overly involved in this aspect of their kids lives and some rival Captain Oblivious in this area. Where is the middle ground?
Today a member of a parenting group I belong to posted what I am about to post. I will warn you it’s a little graphic, but it’s reality. Here it is:
Hey guys……. Let’s talk PHONES. Laptops desktops. iPads and Internet. Filtering. And social media and our kids. Especially as it relates to sexual conduct. I’m going out on a branch here to open up this conversation because Id like some feedback from this group.
I have recently become aware of some VERY disturbing things going on with kids. Are you filtering? Do your kids have iPhones? Data? Are they allowed on Instagram? Snapchat? Kik? Do you restrict their access to porn? Do you allow phones in room at night? Do you allow sleepovers? Are they allowed with phones in rooms at night on sleepovers? Are you aware of parents at other houses police any of this? Do you care?
I’m curious what others are doing, or not doing, because I have been made acutely aware that they think certain “things” are considered normal and common such as “group masterbation while watching porn on phones general porn watching on phones, “bro jobs” soggy waffle (nice) “Pansexuality” anal sex among 14 yr olds and a variety of other activities that are being cast as the new “norm”.
Number one. Are you aware of this? Number two what is anyone doing to help their kids. Thanks. Hope this post doesn’t deliver *crickets* lol
Unfortunately she’s not just whistling Dixie. How do you strike a balance without being the parental hate police? Tweens and teens are by nature secretive. They also think they know everything.
I am all for electronics being taken out of the bedrooms at night. I can only control what goes on in my house, I can’t control what goes on in the houses of the kids my kid is friends with. And for the most part I’m really lucky he knows good kids. But still….these programs and apps are worrisome.
A lot of these chat things the tweens and teens use promote ugliness like cyber bullying. I’ve seen it I know it happens. One website I find absolutely vile and astounding that any parent would allow their kids to have is an account on ask.FM.
And then there is what kids post. The young teen girls in particular don’t get the whole Lolita of it all. But then again you have to look at what some of the parents are posting. No one gets it some days.
Maybe I’m more aware of a lot of this because I’ve been a blogger for a few years. Maybe I’m more aware of some of this is because as an adult I was cyberbullied for a few months straight. Or maybe I just think too much and I shouldn’t post this post after all…
Whisper , YikYak, kik ,ChatRoulette , Omegle,snap chat, Tinder (This app, and similar apps such as Down, Skout, Pure, Blendr are all about the hook up), Poof (hides apps on your phone screen),
Now this website is a faith based one, which isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but they aren’t necessarily wrong about raising awareness of apps and what they do. I don’t see Vine as particularly harmful, either.
They left off Ask.fm . Seriously that site is vile. An article released today indicates they are trying to “clean up their act”:
LOS ANGELES — In the five months since Ask.com has taken over the controversial anonymous app Ask.FM, usage has dropped as the new owner has tried to clean up practices.
From its peak of 200 million users before Ask bought Ask.FM last summer, the app now has 150 million monthly users. Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds doesn’t mind.
“We’re in it for the long haul. We’ll get great growth when we get the message that it’s now a safe place to be,” he says.
With the app, used heavily by teens around the globe, you can anonymously ask people questions, ranging from “Do you think I’m cute?” to “why are you so unpopular?”
Before IAC unit Ask.com bought Ask.FM, the Latvia-based app was targeted by several district attorneys after teens committed suicide, apparently after bullying from users of the app.
Tech4Mommies lists their problem app list as Poof or Hide App, SnapChat, Whisper, Kik, YikYak, Tinder, Vine, and Ask.fm. CheckupNewsRoom.com lists their problem app list as: YikYak, SnapChat, Kik, Poof, Omegle, Whisper, and Down. EducateEmpowerKid.org lists as their list Tinder, SnapChat, Blendr, Kik, Whisper, Ask.fm, YikYak, Poof, Omegle, Down.
My take away is it doesn’t matter if it’s a faith-based website or just a parent-centric website, there is a commonality in as much as the list of what problem apps are. So are we paying attention to these things? Are we being too laissez faire or too hypervigilant? Or none of the above? And what are our schools doing really? Are they leaving this up to us as parents or are they really in fact an active partner in figuring this all out? As far as schools go, I’m leaning a little more towards the lip service category. It’s like cyber bullying – they seem talk a good game and have “policies” but what do they really do?
19 year old, Andrew Watts, is a sophomore Management Information Systems major (marketing minor) at the University of Texas in Austin and penned an interesting glimpse into the world of teenage (and college) consumption (or lack thereof) of the biggest social networks. We see studies day in and day out from Gallup or Pew on polling that is then interpreted by all the hot tech blogs, but very few articles actually cite real, blood pumping teenage humans. And by the time the studies are published, most likely, the stats are dated – as teenage trends move in and out so quickly. What do they actually think, in their own words, about the various social networks? Watts lays it out:
Watts states: “It’s dead to us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.” ….“Snapchat is quickly becoming the most used social media network.” He explains, the difference between Snapchat and Instagram is in the etiquette. On Snapchat people will post photos and videos of their night as it happens. The good, the bad and the fugly. On Instagram they post “the cutest one of the bunch.”…..Yik Yak is simple. There are no profiles and no followers. Anyone can post anything and it gets up or down thumbed (ala Reddit). Everything from “I just farted” to “Going to the girls basketball game tonight at 8.” He says everyone is on it before class, during class, and after class to find out what is going on around campus. Yik Yak is hyper local (only shows posts within a 10 mile radius). So he says completely unused during school breaks.
I discovered a website that seems to make things pretty pretty balanced. It’s called ConnectSafely.org . It’s geared towards teens, parents, and educators.
The thing is this: we want to encourage kids to make smart choices. We want to keep the lines of communication open as well. The problem is we’re talking about tweens and teens and they don’t want to talk to us a lot of the time. Get real ……did you want to talk to your parents about stuff you didn’t want to talk to your parents about it when you were their age?
It’s frustrating. I am the first person to admit it. And I have been at this parenting game a lot fewer years than a lot of the rest of you out there. How do you strike the balance? A lot of that balance has to do with being a friend versus being a parent. Add to that when your kids come in contact with the parenting styles of their friends’ parents. And what works and some families doesn’t necessarily work in others.
You can’t wrap your kids and cotton wool and you can’t shield them from the world. They have to experience life on their own terms, and one of the hard things I’m learning about being a parent is trusting them and letting them go enough to do that. You can provide them with a good moral compass, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to shield them from the inappropriate in life. It’s part of life, after all.
To me, I keep coming back to balance and moderation. I also have to be accepting of the things that I don’t like and what my teenager doesn’t like that I don’t like. Somewhere in the middle I think lies the answer. Rules and common sense don’t hurt either.
But as parents we can’t be ostriches a stick our heads in the sand and say. “La la la la this isn’t happening” any more than we can be the parent police. So I guess as much as it can be uncomfortable for both sides of the fence as in teens and parents, it’s an ongoing work in progress and necessary conversation isn’t it?
I will close by saying I’m a modern woman with an old-fashioned side I’m discovering when to comes to parenting. I’m not the cool parent who going to say let’s have a co-ed sleepover I think that’s bunk and to an extent asking for trouble. I am the parent who is going to ask questions, because in as much as anything else it’s how I learn about things….not just the inner workings of the teenage mind.
I try not to be the Parental Spanish Inquisition but when you’re dealing with teenagers sometimes everything is the Parental Spanish Inquisition. And in a way this is a brave new world for me because growing up there was a lot I did not feel like I could talk to my parents about safely, so I have to learn how to talk to kids about certain things.
The flip side of course is sometimes teenagers could give their parents less of a hard time. I know, I know. That is the age old battle time in memoriam isn’t it?
One of my mother’s favorite expressions is “never complain, never explain”. As I flip through Facebook this morning while having my coffee, I thought I would pass it on. Some people might actually need it cross stitched and framed. Do you sense sarcasm here? Just a little bit? Sorry, I just find women and social media an oddity at times.
There is a lot of glass half empty and what the world owes people going on online. But maybe that is just social media: our own personal platforms for way too much grexing. (“Grexing” is Pennsylvania German for whining, complaining, or brutzing.)
I understand that everyone has troubles at different points in their lives and I totally get feeling the need to vent now and then, but there are some who are always seeming to be this way. I don’t know if they are this way in person all the time at this point or if this is just their online persona. But it’s like they are constantly negative and chronically angry and how is that healthy?
Trust me, I can whine with the best of them. But when you seem to be barraged with it from certain people all the time it gives you pause for thought. Is the glass really always half-empty? Why isn’t it ever half-full?
None of us are perfect, but do some of us simply expect too much of other people without looking to see what we can do by standing on our own two feet? It’s just that when I see some of what some people are putting “out there” for the world to see versus friends I have who lives with horrible diseases every single day and are among the most positive people I’ve ever met, it just makes me stop and think. I know women who are living with diseases like multiple sclerosis and metastatic breast cancer. Truthfully, these are the women that inspire me. They have every right to complain, but they don’t. They live. And they live positively and with love.
Whatever happened to personal accountability? Why is the world responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives? We are all capable of free will, so unless we are being dangerously coerced or abused, aren’t we the ones making those decisions? From businesses to kids to life to men it’s giant gripe-fest some mornings. In some cases I can’t help but wonder if it’s karma, and I feel bad even thinking that, but when you treat other people poorly or rudely for long enough, what happens? Is it the old adage of everything that goes around eventually comes around?
A dear friend’s husband said to me that I need new people in my sphere, and I don’t think I necessarily that but I think some need a new outlook. And I’m not Pollyanna every day, so don’t misunderstand me, it’s just sometimes I am left silently asking these people a question. That question is how are we responsible for your personal happiness? And I am not silently asking that question to be mean. I want to know how it is we are supposed to be responsible for own lives and our families and their happiness? And yet we are called disloyal and worse if we don’t jump on the online bandwagon of support, which I don’t get. Do these people want true friends or sychophants?
Personally, I am someone who can be extraordinarily hard on myself. I am probably harder on myself than anyone else ever is. But when I see other people’s negativity head on it gives me pause, and makes me look inward at myself and my attitude too for that matter.
And then there are the women I see in groups who ask questions of total strangers that I don’t know that I would even voice out loud to people I know. Some of the questions range from the “lady you need boundaries that’s very personal” to “say what did she really just say that?”
And in group forums, there are some women who seem to view everyone else as the Shell Answer Man for lack of a better description. Sometimes I wonder if these people can get out of bed in the morning without seeking consensus first. Looking for referrals for a doctor, hair salon, restaurant, service provider I get those questions. But what I don’t get is when people post things like they have a cheating spouse and spouse was a cheating person before they married them and they just caught them at it again and what should they do should they just stay or should they leave? Really??? This is something you ask a thousand strangers ??
Another another favorite topic in the group forums is what to pay the babysitter. I’ve come to the conclusion there are a lot of cheap women out there.
And then there are the women who seek actual medical advice from a thousand strangers they don’t know and who definitely aren’t medical professionals- yes, that consensus seeking syndrome again. And I’m not talking about their asking medical related questions in a group that is geared specifically towards a disease or disorder. I’m talking about the women who should be filed under the category of “there are no boundaries on this bus”. And really, I don’t need to read what color your kid’s poop is either. (Yes seriously I have seen people post things about that.)
The thing that amuses me about some of these women when I see what they’re writing in public (and if it’s on Facebook or Twitter or other social media, it’s in public) is that these are often the type of women that I would run into a few short years ago who would say “I don’t know how you can blog. It’s so public.” And the tone of voice and face that would accompany comments like this was like I was doing something well, dirty.
Yes, to an extent, the Internet is like a giant bathroom wall. Which means what exactly? A society we are changing how we share? Or it’s just nice to have a place to vent? Or we should learn to once again to occasionally curb the streams of flowing consciousness?
Another amusing thing about women and social media are the ones who try to develop a particular persona that’s really not who they are in real time. I’m talking about the ones who are all so sickly sweet and posting cute little phrases often with photos constantly while they God bless everyone and thank God for blessings everything. And I am not speaking of the people I know who are truly good and Christian women, I’m talking about the ones that think we don’t know how they treat other people in real time and how viciously they gossip when they’re off their social media pages.
I really respect women who are who real and true online and off.
One of my favorite things hands-down still about connecting with women I know on social media is it’s a way to keep up with relatives and friends who are spread out and scattered to the four winds. It’s really nice to see pictures of their kids, and hear about what everyone is doing. One of the sad things however, is you can also see those who are starting to self-destruct and disintegrate. It makes you wonder why their families don’t see it too at times.
And then we all know people who seem unable to have actual conversations any longer, yet you can read all about it on social media. Maybe I am showing my age that I lament the lost art of conversation and even thank you notes. But I do think people don’t talk to each other enough any longer. Texting and tweeting and Facebooking are not talking. They might be a form of communication, but it is not the same nor a substitute for speaking and having conversations. And this doesn’t just occur with adults, it occurs with the young – our kids. And I think our kids need to be able to communicate and express how they’re feeling traditionally not just via social media and texting. And a lot of times they can’t.
I know some people I know are going to be annoyed or almost paranoid by this post I’ve written. Ladies, rest easy, the one thing that has never changed with me in all these years is telling you exactly how I am feeling person to person. If I had an issue with you I wouldn’t allude to it vaguely on a social media feed or in a blog post, I would tell you. In other words I’m not gonna play whisper down the lane behind your back yet in front of your face like a lot of people do on social media, this is just something I was thinking about as I was drinking my coffee this morning.
Thanks for stopping by and please, try to see the bright spots in life. It’s really easy to be negative, it’s much more work to be positive but so worth it. Life, every day, is a gift.