"Like my status."
"Write on my wall."
I'd be willing to bet that most of you reading this article are more than a little familiar with those phrases. Since about 2005, I've been hearing them with more and more regularity from a wider variety of sources. In the morning, I check Facebook and email before I even get out of bed. We live in a world of hyper communication where you can make your thoughts known to as many friends as you can add before you've even had breakfast. The question is, is anyone really listening? And just what are we putting out there?
Although I may not always feel like one, (my penchant for Disney movies might argue against it in fact) I am an adult. I joined Facebook in its infancy--I still remember waiting anxiously through the whole summer of 2005 for my college email address. Not because I wanted to talk to my new classmates, but because I needed that precious .edu to sign up for Facebook. "Facebook me" became the phrase heard most often on campus.
During college, I posted often and found it highly amusing to see pictures of myself posted by friends, recording our nights out — evidence of what crazy shenanigans we got up to. Now, only a few years later, I (and many of my peers) have been working hard to remove any evidence of college fun that might adversely affect my adult life. Many friends have dropped their last names on Facebook so as to prevent future employers from finding them and those pictures involving certain red Solo cups. Detagging doesn't remove the picture — just your link to it. I shudder to think of how many photos of me are floating around on that site just waiting to be identified.
So what does this have to do with school? As a teacher, I spent days with middle school children. Now that Facebook is open to everyone and you no longer need that special domain, everyone and their mother is writing on your wall (literally...my mom joined Facebook a few years ago). Some people, adults or children, might realize that immortalizing certain thoughts and photos online where they may languish forever might require deeper thought then we as a society have given it. At a middle school age though, it's difficult to see that far ahead. I saw profiles with racy pictures, words that would make a sailor blush and candid talk on topics parents might be surprised to know their kids had any knowledge of.
For me, Facebook is a fun way to stay involved in friends' lives, even from a distance. For others, it's proof that someone out there is listening and sharing in your corner of the world. Just take the Chantilly Spirit Shed here in Virginia. Not only is there a memorial page for it, but people were banding together through the site to try and rebuild it. Facebook offers a great community, but I think we adults should think a little longer about what our kids should be able to put out into the world without our knowledge.