Sunday, September 6, 2009

Facebook or World-wide Billboard

I am a mother coming to grips with the fact that her two sons have reached their teenaged years and have little or no time for her. Despite this, I feel that I cannot abdicate my position of seeing them to adulthood safely. So I keep abreast of what they are doing by asking questions disinterestedly so that it doesn't seem as though I am prying. I look at the house caller i.d. to see who has been calling them. And I have taken to looking at their Facebook pages to learn more about what they are up to.

As I was perusing my son's facebook page, I realized that there are many adults who have facebook pages linked to his: one of his junior high school teachers, several cousins and my own two sisters. I was completely nonplussed. There, once I went to her spot, were my sister's children (my own sweet nephews, thank you) in diapers and milk moustaches. As I scrolled down, it became quite clear that despite her youngest being two years of age, my sister was in the depths of postpartum psychosis. What other reason could there be for her to have rap videos on her page, pictures of backyard beer bashes, and an array of pictures of diaper-clad toddlers standing on furniture? Why would she think this was suitable material for the world to see? And what would my parents think? We were raised by the junction that you do not air your dirty laundry in public.

I think facebook is dangerous for kids. There is too much pressure to "one-up" each other and post pictures and comments that are lewd, dangerous or at the least, sophomoric. It is hard enough to be a teenager without adding this to the mix. But I think facebook is downright undignified for adults.

I believe that whatever our public profile is, less is more. It does no one any good to know that at 12:15 pm on July 6th, my sister was having her "first cup of coffee." Nor was it necessary for her to post, on July 19th, that she would need to decompress after seeing her family for the first time in over a year. Some may argue that one person's circumspection is another's repression, but I'll take being discreet over sloppy any day.

I recognize how much fun it can be to get in touch with people you have not seen in a long time. I also get the need, as we reach forty, that we feel we have to justify the kinds of people we have become. Facebook can be a great tool in measured doses. You can show that roommate who drove you nuts that you are doing just fine, thank you. It might also be restorative to show the one who got away that you've recovered from your heartbreak. But to fill people in, constantly, with the minutiae of your day is tedious for those who read it. It also seems a bit narcissistic. Really, is it necessary for people to know that you are watching the Food Network? Again?

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