The Internet. It's this wondrous, amazing, enormous tool that connects people to people, knowledge, new ideas, recipes, one-liners, late-night sports scores and the best humanity has to offer about, well, just about anything.
It's also home to the lowest of the low. The semi-anonymous jackholes that think because he or she is grooming some kind of what-they-think-is-heeeeelarious online personality, they can say just about anything and label it a joke. Or pass cruel judgement on the undeserving and then wrap themselves in the warm blanket that is free speech.
How do these people sleep at night? How do they kiss their mother with that mouth?
Our most recent example (which will last all of five minutes, I'm certain, before it's topped by another) is that of Curt Schilling and his daughter, Gabby. Love or hate him, he's a proud papa. And he took to Twitter to say so when his daughter was accepted into a college and is going to play softball.
Gabby is no one of significance on the Internet. Other than her father is a baseball icon. Yet, his Tweet was somehow the green light for more than a few scumbags to come out of the shadows to Tweet back their plans for her when she goes to school.
I'm not going to re-post them here. I'd rather you read them in context of Schilling's blog, where he calls out these individuals.
I think everyone can agree there are instances with social media in which people have gone too damn far. People have died for it. You would think that would be enough for someone to think twice before posting pointless-and-usually-disgusting commentary. Sadly, no. Because everyone thinks they are entitled to an opinion and to be able to share it for a chuckle.
Parents, we can do better. The last thing you want tomorrow, next, week, next month or even next year is the Twitterverse piling on you because your kid thinks it's funny to make a crass comment about Taylor Swift. For real—her fans are verrry protective.
Just as Schilling mentions in his blog post, social media didn't exist when we were in high school and college. And for a thousand reasons, wow. Thank God it didn't. I'd be a hypocrite to suggest I'd never say something stupid online. But just because we didn't have it doesn't mean we don't need to educate ourselves on how our kids use it. Here are a few ideas:
- One of my favorite resources is Meghan Doherty's "How Not to be a Dick." There's an entire chapter on the Internet that starts by reminding readers the Internet is FOREVER. What you say, good, bad or ugly, will follow you into eternity.
- Want to get a better understanding of how some social media apps work? Another ChicagoNow blogger, Shannan Younger, often posts great info at Tween Us.
- Model it. Shoot, just last night, watching "The Bachelor" (Shaddup. I was folding laundry and channel surfing) with my 13-year-old, I caught myself saying, "Yowza, what a bitch" about one of the contestants. Nice. Poor woman. I don't know her, I didn't even watch the show this season, so how would I know based on one instance if she's that evil. The more appropriate thing would have been to tag the action -- "What a bitchy thing to say." Ha. How's that for parental skills? The point being, your kids hear everything you say, and think it's OK. I say that out loud, and the next thing you know, my daughter could (but didn't) repeat it on Facebook. Who's to blame for that?
- There's power in conversation. TALK to your kids about the Internet. Friend them on Facebook. Check in on their conversations. I get the "I want my kids to know I respect their privacy" thing, and I in turn respect that opinion. But if you aren't going to snoop even just a little, you should at least talk about the dangers of cyberbullying and make sure they understand their role in preventing it.
To that end, there is a movie coming out later this month—A Girl Like Her. I haven't seen it, but I am already planning on taking my kids—even the 17-year-old and 19-year-old. And then we'll talk about it. Because talk is good. Flaming people on the Internet? Not so much. Here's the trailer:
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Filed under: Mama Drama