Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why I'm Saying No To Facebook....

(This is really a letter to my daughters...)

Grace sometimes asks for a Facebook page.  Not to keep in touch with other kids or family, she has Instagram for that, but for keeping track of the weather and following her favorite weather outlets and meteorologists and I have said no.  I have always said no but I have not quite been able to articulate why.  After all she does have Instagram, which for us has been a hugely positive experience, and she does have Twitter, although she is not allowed to post to Twitter, only follow.  The once or twice that she has posted it was to report weather conditions in our town.

Facebook is a different story though.  Unlike Instagram or Twitter, Facebook hits you hard with advertisements and shows you the things that other people like.  It causes you  to react to a visual image or to an advertisement quickly, impulsively, and sometimes naively.  Recently someone I know posted a comment and a link to a newspaper picture that I wish I did not see.  I have been trying to avoid everything with IS because the visual imagery and the horror and terror upset me too much.  I can’t have that in my mind and eating away at my heart.  So I shut it out.  Sometimes I can’t, like at the drug store, I saw an image on a NY newspaper and it brought tears to my eyes and now I can’t undo what I saw.  Nor can I undo the words I read and the image I saw on Facebook.  

Not only is there no control over reading and being exposed to images your friends post, and the advertisements that pop up, your finger is quick to hit the “like” button.  I see this on my Facebook page all the time.  The “likes” by the younger people I follow, teens and young adults, make me pause and wish I could reach out on their behalf and hit erase, unwind, redo.  Once you “like” something, once you repost something, once you create a post, it is part of your digital footprint forever.  Forever.  You cannot erase it.  You cannot rewind.  You cannot undo.  Deleting is not a delete.  It remains permanently on Facebook’s or Instagram’s or Twitter’s server.  Anyone who is skilled at accessing information will be able to read your complete digital footprint.  It may not matter now, at 16, 17 or 18 but it sure as heck may matter at 22, 23, 24 when you are seeking employment and your footprint is searched.  

What seemed like a harmless “like” may lead someone to think you are a recreational drug user.  What seemed like a harmless “like” may lead someone to think you are a political extremist.  What seemed like a harmless “like” is an indication to who you are and what you value at that time in your life.  

My digital footprint on FB will certainly not get me hired as a teacher.  I have posted too many articles and commented on too many posts questioning the currently trends and philosophies of education.  I have openly supported homeschooling and alternative schooling.  Even if I am the most qualified applicant, my footprint may keep me from a job as an educator for a public school system.  I know that.  I accept that.  However, someone at 15, 16, 17 may not realize how posting now will affect them 5 and 10 years from now.

I want my girls to think of Facebook as a mirror.  What we post and what we comment are reflections of who we are.  It is a snapshot of both our personality and our personal values.  What we show to the FB community is no different that what we show to people in person however, people may forget our names, they may forget what we look like, they may forget a conversation we had, they may forget an illness or a tragedy we have experienced, they may forget where we went to dinner, or what the last movie we saw was.  They may forget the time we partied to hard on spring break or when when a nasty comment slipped out of our mouth.  They may forget when we hurt someone’s feelings, used poor grammar, or even when we blatantly told a lie.  They may forget when we said a disparaging comment about our children, or had a spat with a family member.  But FB never will.  What we put out is part of our permanent composition.  We build it with every post, with every “like”, with every share, with every comment.  

So this is why we do not have FB and this is why I do not foresee FB as an option for my girls for a very long time.  But rock on Twitter and Instagram.  We love you!


Shel said...

I agree! I see so many young kids (like ages seven or eight) on Facebook and I'm not sure why. It just does not seem necessary that they be there at those ages. Plus, I hear about so much bullying that goes on. I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, and there are many, many, many times I think about leaving. I have dramatically cut down my time on Facebook turning off FB notifications on my phone and not being able to check PMs from my phone since I ddin't download the messenger app has really helped that).

I have to admit that I do miss being connected to you on Facebook, Jess! I am glad that we have blogs and email and Instagram but I do so miss your posts!

I am pretty sure we will go the same route with our girls when it comes to Facebook. As it is I am pretty sure they will be the last kids to get phones! I figure until we are not together all the time there's just no need. Maybe that's naive but it's where I'm at in my thinking at this moment in time. And goodness as Emma only turns seven next week and Grace is eight-and-a-half I think (hope!) we have loads of time before we really need to deal with them and their own phones! xo

Jessica said...

I am back on Facebook Shel. I have very few "friends" because I use it mostly for accessing information. I am on under my name -- no blog account.

I have not had any issues with my girls and phones or social media. I would like to think it is because Greg and I spend a lot of time talking about social media, pointing out things we think are unsafe, or unwise (in other people's usage) and the girls come to us with questions, about texting and posts that they see on Instagram. For us it has been positive. Grace got her phone at 12 and Lilah followed soon after because we were all Instagramming and she had to wait for wireless and out of all of us, she is the most artistic! Each family has their own reasons for their policies and you have to do what works for your children. When the time is right, you will know!

Shel said...

Oh, I didn't realize you had come back! Well, welcome back, my friend!

Twelve for a phone makes more sense to me than kids who are around my girls ages (or younger). And yes, I totally agree that each family has their own reasons for their policies and choices. I'm sure that we seem terribly old fashioned to some! :)

Thanks for always giving me such good stuff to think about! xo

dstb said...

I agree that each family needs to make rules that work for them.

When my son, who is now a senior in high school, was in 2nd grade, a friend of his introduced him to Club Penguin. He soooo wanted to join, but after we took a look at it, we decided that it was not something we thought was right for our family. I didn't really like this early introduction to social media and I also didn't didn't like that you could buy extras for your penguin. He insisted he would only play the free version, but I am sure it would just be a matter of time until he was begging to use his allowance for this game. I have never seen my son so upset when we told him no. He refused to talk to us. I was just shocked at how mad he was, but that pretty much sealed the decision for us. If playing a few hours at his friends house could get him that addicted (not really the right word) then we certainly didn't need it in our home.

Social media didn't really come up again until high school. He felt that he wasn't "in the know" in certain cases. Also, we found that groups like the soccer team used that as their main way of communicating practice schedules. We let him get an account, but I had my husband get one, too (I avoided getting one) so we could kind of keep an eye on things. We did talk to him about the whole digital footprint thing and how colleges or future employers could possibly use that to get a sense of who you are. So far, we have found that my son uses it just to keep tabs and doesn't post anything himself. One of the positive things I have seen on facebook is that someone has created a compliments profile and they regularly choose a student from the high school to compliment.

Cell phones were another thing we delayed for a long time mostly because the price of a plan is ridiculous and hey, we survived without them! We got our first tracfone when he was a freshman so he could let us know when he needed to get picked up after practice or an event. He was tired of always asking to use someone else's phone and I was tired of waiting around when I showed up at the finish of practice and the coach kept them late. In November, he and I finally got smart phones (I never felt like I needed one, but it has been useful for text messaging - the preferred method of communication for high school students.) My younger son, a sophomore who is homeschooled, will probably get one in the next couple of months after he gets his license. He's the one I am going to have to watch to make sure he doesn't go over the data limits. He is using older son's old tracfone and has used up more minutes in the past couple of months than his brother ever did!

I have never really figured facebook out, so I am glad it made a late arrival to our home and it doesn't seem to be that big a deal for either of my kids.


Karen said...

Keilee is on Facebook because so many things she does ONLY communicate through FB. She never posts, never comments, rarely 'likes'. I dislike Facebook. I wish I could redo my FB with only a few friends and some Homeschooling pages. I just checked and the last time Kei posted on FB was my birthday. April 2014. Grace is missing NOTHING by not being on FB.

Helen said...

We have very little social media in our house. I have a Facebook but don't post anything, simply follow old friends and family members. My daughter has no social media and frankly doesn't want it. At nearly 16, she does have a cell phone but a pretty basic one with no data.

Tereza Crump said...

This was so well articulated. WE don't do FAcebook, Twitter or Instagram for same reasons.

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