Friday, April 21, 2006

My space vs. myspace

I know you all have thought I fell off the face of the earth after what we’ve been through lately, but I haven’t. I just referred so many people to this blog to read the story (so I didn’t have to repeat it) that I wanted it to be the top story. (And thanks to all of you for your wonderful and supportive comments. You’re the best!) I’ve been thinking a lot about myspace and facebook. Several boys were arrested today in Kansas for plotting a Columbine-like massacre on their school, all outlined on their myspace account. I know each generation has had their “thing” that marks their uniqueness. Rioting against the Vietnam War, streaking, patches on jeans, mood rings. Well, you get the idea. And I fear that the concept of online journals is this generation’s “thing.” I don’t include blogs in this category because I think we bloggers are much more sophisticated. Blogs seem to belong to the “older” (sorry) generation and are decorated and designed and intellectual. But these young people who think that putting their name, their hometown, and drunken pictures of themselves is private, they are so stupid and naïve. Dateline had a great episode on myspace and shocked 3 girls when they had a 40+ detective find out thing about them in less than 10 minutes. They thought it was private, and they were sadly mistaken. It is scary how much information about this younger generation is “out there.” And I think their naiveté is in thinking no one will use that information. We all know about Dooce losing her job over her blog, but myspace and facebook entries are a real problem in college settings even before you’re hired. Guess these large companies have web “police” who check out applicants’ facebook accounts when deciding who to hire. So as much as you, my bloggy friends, know about me and as much as I may or may not reveal when we start to e-mail, there will always be a bit of mystery about me.

Today while sailing, cruising, surfing (Hey, come on, I don’t get out much. I only get to do those things on the internet instead of real life.) the internet, I found my daughter’s myspace. Remember when I told you she (we) deleted her account after the big incident (Dubbed the Debacle of ’06)? Well, she has opened up another one. 2 things ran thought my head. One, how stupid does she think I am? And two, she did a much better job concealing her identity (no pictures, no names, no locations), but it didn’t take me long to figure it out. I wonder how long it will take the mean girls. Her high school’s paper had a huge article in it this week about the facebook controversy at the high school that happened recently. Some junior boys, bored one weekend and probably having been labeled “geeky” by classmates, scanned every single yearbook photo of the junior girls. Then they wrote racist and sexist comments about each girl (with some exceptions because that was an ominous task). All it took was 1 person in the community to find it and all hell broke loose at school that Monday. Unlike my daughter’s case, the boys were suspended for 10 days because of what they did instead of being given a warning once it was brought to the administrators’ attention. From what I gathered, that’s because they were brought up on “inciting a riot” charges because it caused so much disturbance at the high school. What really pissed me off was the boys’ parents considering a lawsuit against the school for punishing their kids for off-campus activities. Tell that to the kids in the Kansas High School whose lives were saved because someone found their myspace threat. Tell that to any parent whose kid has been threatened, intimidated, and persecuted on myspace. I bet they’d be singing a different tune if it were their daughters who had been crushed by these comments with their pictures in facebook. Lawsuit abated, I still had to wonder, since there were no exceptions to the “Safe School Policy,” why some kids are punished for off-campus threats after first time and others are given a warning.

Now, of course, the question is do I tell my daughter I know about her myspace or do I leave it (a) because she is almost 18 and needs her privacy or (b) so I can sneak in and read about her life? (I learned much today already.)

As a follow-up to my previous entry, trust me, I was keeping score at the honor ceremony last week. 4 of the means girls (MGs) who qualified were there, despite their vow not to join anything traditional. (I sure hope they don't show up to graduation, but something tells me that now that we have told the principal of their rebellion not to join in, they will be there.) As Dorothy walked across the stage, I made note when everyone in the receiving line, with the exception of the retiring Spanish teacher (because Dorothy never took Spanish), grabbed Dorothy and hugged the stuffings out of her. (The receiving line was made up of the head principal, the senior secretary who was handing the medals to the principal, 2 teachers who are retiring at the end of the year, the senior counselor who Dorothy had gone to with the problem in the first place, the teacher voted to give the address (who both daughters had for pre-calc), the Superintendent, and the senior principal.) I also made note that, with the exception of this retiring Spanish teacher (because one of the MGs took Spanish), NOT ONE person in the receiving line gave anything more than the compulsory handshake. It did my heart good. Those MGs got off scot free with the threat they would be punished if it happened again. Dorothy’s father demanded that the principal escort Dorothy out of her locker, explaining that if they did this to her once, they could plant something on her the next time. So Dorothy has very few friends and no locker. (She says she never goes so she didn’t press the issue.) We parents have since learned that the old adage "sticks and stone can break your bones but words will never hurt you" is so untrue.