Saturday, June 09, 2012

You Must Be Taller Than The Clown

I understand. I'm not supposed to disparage or throw stones at Facebook because I'm not on Facebook. Only if I were to join the ever-widening cult that is Facebook could I feel free to voice my opinion. How do I know unless I've tried it? Well, maybe because of the strange effect that I've noticed in my contacts with those who have become part of the social media scene. The ones with whom I no longer have in-depth conversations, or share personal connections. I'm asked to log on and check their status. I'm a big fan of three or four very close friends versus dozens of quasi-intimates. Or thousands.
And now the Book of Face would like to add kids under thirteen to its legions. Currently there is a age requirement to become one of the nearly one billion users: You have to be over thirteen, or be able to do the simple math that will allow you to figure out in which year you would have to be born in order to be included in that pool. You might get some help from your parents, if you message them first.
So I'm not on Faceybokk. What do I know? I know kids under thirteen. I know that one of the battles I wage almost daily is trying to get them to interact in positive personal ways. I'm trying to teach them that there are other human beings out there just beyond the end of their fingertips and they can be made happy or sad by the interactions they have with them. I'm trying to teach them empathy. Try doing that online.
I'm very happy that I was able to raise my son right up to the edge of that time without getting him immersed in the poking and liking and clicking that passes for human contact. His Face is part of the Book. Or at least Bill the Cat is, since he declines to use his own photo. I periodically have to ask him to disengage from his screen to share a little of that face, his not Bill's, with me. I'm glad that he learned to talk to us all without the aid of a keyboard. I wonder how insurmountable that challenge would be if he had opened his account on his ninth birthday. We still get to hear about his day without having to sit at our computers waiting for the updates. We know who is bothering him and who he is bothering. The level of much of the discourse on Fazeboock is perhaps not too much more intricate than that of most nine-year-olds, but I would love to give them a chance before we begin limiting their expressions to emoticons and txtspk.
But then again, what do I know?

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