I am nothing if not a singular apologist for social media. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it. I am not an apologist for social media. While I fully appreciate the way that technology has allowed humans to connect in ways that would have seemed ridiculous and obscure thirty years ago. Being able to share ideas and pen pal letters with classrooms across the globe with counterparts they have only encountered online is a genius thing. On the other hand, I do have to spend a certain amount of time, mandated time, each year explaining to children why we have to be extremely careful about with whom and where we share information. The cell phones in ten-year-olds' pockets that cost more than the computers in the lab are highly sophisticated machines that are designed with the idea of keeping the bearer of that technology in touch with the world. No worries there. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.
We should expect that with kids. We wouldn't send them out with a lighter and tell them to start up the gas grill without some very specific training and admonitions. Come to think of it, we probably wouldn't even give them the lighter. Matches, maybe.
What about adults?
"Life is short. Have an affair." That's the slogan of the networking site, Ashley Madison. This is a web site that actively promotes infidelity. As a proponent of technology (see above) this is just about the lowest form of in-your-face-what's-wrong-with-this-world-sign-of-the-coming-apocalypse moral decrepitude that makes people old and young wish that there was something wholesome left in this world. The Ashley Madison folks even had a "money back guarantee: "Your money back if your infidelity is not completely satisfying." What could go wrong?
July of this year, a group calling themselves "The Impact Group" hacked into the membership files of Ashley Madison. Whoops. No more discretion. Now that data was free to roam about Al Gore's Internet in ways that even Al might not have imagined. What were the human costs? So far, two people have committed suicide as a result of having their private lives being made very public. The door is currently kicked wide open for more extortion, scams and bad behavior brought on by what was probably a lark that turned into a twisted trail of broken hearts and dented dreams. Karma? Perhaps, but it brings to mind the image that a fellow teacher once suggested to me about ketchup in a bottle. If you don't want ketchup all over everything, don't take it out of the bottle. There is no clever way to get the ketchup back inside once it's out. In this case, your personal business is the ketchup, and the Internet is the paper plate that will now become covered in that ill-advised attempt at using far too much of a condiment. Messy. Ugly. Marriages and relationships ended because of poorly managed ketchup.
Keep it in the bottle.