“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles”
(Hamlet, Act Three scene one)
Yes, FACEBOOK… “To be or not to be”… truly THE question.
If I ask the teenage members of my household… it is a no-brainer! You are not considered alive (or with a pulse) unless you have a Facebook account you regularly contribute to and update. Facebook among many of the kids is a lot like Pokémon … “you got to catch them all.” Friends are collected online like nothing I have ever seen before. I know of kids who have Facebook accounts (younger than the mandatory age of 13) and have a whopping 848 friends! If you were to see each of these “friends” only once a year one would have to see 2.3 friends every day of the year. Other teenagers have as many as 2,100 Facebook buddies (I kid you not). Really makes you wonder what “friend” even means on Facebook.
I was invited to join Facebook by my kids several years ago. My answers (one through ten) were “No, NO, Definitely NOT and NEVER.” Then I realized that in order to monitor my kids in cyberspace (prior to any possible incarcerations) the best plan would be to accept Facebook and have some (although minimal at best) understanding of what my kids are doing on the Information Highway.
Some of my kids think it is great I am now on Facebook. Although others hang their heads in shame that I have only a small number of “Facebook friends” compared to them. (!!!) Many months passed and I had only 15 friends … half of which were my own kids. I was told I was “lame” (not the first time for sure!) Facebook is not as easy as it seems.
First of all one needs to completely understand that any information shared on this utility is forever available in some database and can be resurrected to suitably embarrass one in the future or impede career advancement.
Kids just don’t get it. Kids do not understand that “sharing info” needs to be done with great caution. That old rule “don’t say or write anything that cannot be published on the front page of the local paper” has surely escaped this generation. Sure the usual banal stuff the teen squad has out there around sleepovers and makeup (before and after pics) could just be considered nuisance info until someone posts pictures of the teenage girls’ sleepover with the kids resplendent in PJs (if that). Where it gets even more serious is when some of these kids (albeit age 18 or 19) are drinking with their friends and compromising comments and pictures get posted.
Stories everywhere about how people forget what they shared and who they shared what info with. One employee had “friended” his boss and then called in “sick” for work one day. All was well until the employee shared his pictures of himself working on his car that afternoon with the caption “I played hooky from work today!” See… when you have several hundred friends you forget who you know and what you said. Needless to say…the guy’s boss messaged him with few words …“YOU ARE FIRED!”
At first I did not like Facebook. I did not want to share much (that is nothing new for me) and with 15 friends (mostly the offspring I reside with) there was not much activity either way. Then people started adding me and I loved seeing pictures and updates that I normally would not get to see. Being someone who loves quotes (also with images) these often become my “status” updates. Sometimes my quotes are shared by others or copied.
Things that I have learned are to question my kids friendships with such Facebook Profiles (albeit it is true you know me as “a goat”) as “Monster Guy” and “Rob the Tomato.” This has part of me wondering if they are not perverts incognito waiting to be collected (“friended”) on Facebook (the goats I am not too worried about). I have learned that some people swear by Facebook and others abhor it. I used to think the older the friend the least likely they use Facebook…not necessarily so.
No matter what anyone says “unfriending” on Facebook does hurt. Tears have flowed in our house because of “unfriending” with no advance warning or discussion only to be followed up by blocking (ability to prevent someone from seeing your profile or trying to connect on-line with you). Facebook allows people access and control that in real life they would think twice before using. It discourages talking or personal communication.
Sadly many friends I do have (and would like to be more in contact with) do not “do Facebook” and the reasons are varied. The less technically savvy aren’t in any hurry to get on board, the introverts can’t stand it and the right-wing traditional folk view it as a dangerous information collecting tool (likely run clandestinely by some government agency).
Pictures are another big deal on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong I love pictures however it does raise many questions like: Who should own the picture? The one who took it (as is customary within copyright laws) or the one who is rendered in the photo? I have had friends take pictures with their children and then post photos of both my children and theirs on Facebook. At first I was concerned, then realized that the exposure was limited to just the immediate circle of friends so I could live with this. Photographs are still a very iffy proposition. I am not completely comfortable with pictures of my kids being taken by other kids (especially without my knowledge or prior consent) and then being modified (including the possibility of adding inappropriate content) and then posted on-line by others.
There is some advantages to Facebook. Community groups on Facebook are a phenomenal source of inspiration and advice. If you are lucky enough to find a community group within your interest scope this is a valuable source of information, opinion and support.
The chat feature of Facebook that becomes available when your friends are on-line I have come to understand is crazy at certain teenage hours (always after about 10:00 pm). I have watched my own daughter maintain a running commentary across no less than 30 friends simultaneously texting messages back and forth with everybody at lightning speed. When I found this incredible my daughter then showed me that there were over 101 of her “friends” all online on Facebook all at once. Overwhelming! That night I retired and thanked God (I am no longer a teenager) I had a few close friends as I would never be inclined (or able) to sustain that kind of following…and with absolutely no interest in entertaining those masses with the minutia of my everyday life.
Facebook has crept into almost everything you can think of. Last year my 12-year-old was visiting friends in Eastern Canada and these friends were making a day trip to the United States. I emailed a letter granting my daughter permission to cross the border (in the company of the other child’s parents) along with a scanned image of her birth certificate. Once my daughter arrived at the border, the Customs Officer asked my kid if she had Facebook and then took her inside the customs office to “log-on” thereby proving who she was. Facebook providing the on-line confirmation of photo ID. I was stunned!
Games are all over Facebook. I was never much of a game person until I got hooked on Bubble Witch and trying to beat the levels without any additional help from spending any money whatsoever. Managed to get to level 117 so far (and completely for free)…and, yes, very addicting. I like it because in a few moments the lives are all gone and I had a five-minute break (likely preventing a few strangled teenagers at this end) and have to wait a few hours before more lives are granted.
A cross-section of statuses I have read on Facebook include:
- I am craving some albatross tonight…(!!)
- Anyone seen Batman tonight ? (Maybe at my house…then again my cape is probably in the washing machine…again)
- Sleepless… again (Nah that does not happen to me…too exhausted…many nights I have no recollection of turning the light out.)
- Only had four-hours sleep (hey that is my usual night.. that is a good rest)
- I am soooo bored (wish I had that much time to myself)
- Who likes me (not going to answer…likely same kid who ditched his chores)
- Inbox me if you want to date me (thankfully no one posted this from my house and NO I did not answer back!)
Things my children hate about me on Facebook is that I can see when they are on and often comment including busting some of the younger teens for not being in bed. Other progeny have decided to totally disown me and block me. From what I understand likely a good thing too as I don’t think I am missing much that one son tried to shave with a pineapple and cut his ear at a party (actually the same son is likely very grateful that thanks to his blocking me on Facebook I cannot comment on his profile) I can live without seeing.
I am a Canadian goat and Facebook stats in Canada recently indicate 17,716,820 as the number of users in this country (our entire population is approximately 34,482,779) meaning that more than 50% of fellow Canadians can be found on Facebook.(!!)
According to what is readily available on internet there are 835,525,280 million Facebook users worldwide (as of March 31, 2012 http://www.internetworldstats.com/facebook.htm).
If that were not enough shopping and consuming is rapidly advancing through social media with commerce sales possibly totalling $9.2 billion by the end of this year and sales expected to climb to $14.25 billion in 2013 and $30 billion in 2015 (according to Social Skinny http://thesocialskinny.com/99-new-social-media-stats-for-2012).
I think we are on the brink of social media changing everything we do. As very soon we will see everyday purchases aided by social media being made online with a smartphone.
So while my kids sit around and think I am a dinosaur because I can remember a time without cellphones, microwaves, email and MP3s… the new reality is our children’s kids may be totally in awe of a time where their parents (the real dinosaurs) actually visited friends, spoke on the phone and went to the store to buy something.
So yes…I am taking “arms against a sea of troubles” as Facebook is truly a love/hate relationship at this end.
After all of this…don’t forget to “like” The Garden Goat on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/GardenGoatQuote