This is a difficult topic to broach — because there are no rules, I haven’t read about it anywhere (haven’t looked, but I’m not one to look for Facebook advice online), I haven’t talked about this with friends, and — maybe it’s the writer- and reader-teacher in me who likes a particular angle to connect to young people — I like to use my own experiences.
Eldest daughter cried about stuff yesterday — it may have been PMS — but friends and lack of friends and ability to make dear friends got brought up, as did the amount of time being spent on Facebook. So we had the talk. Talk #1.
I’m sensitive to the possibility to being overbearing.. but at what other time would I be able to talk to my young person about the alleged misery Facebook can potentially cause?
I think we all know what Facebook’s about, so my aim was to end up with a real, honest and authentic discussion about what Facebook actually is at this point in her young life. Any study I’ve heard about social media didn’t come up.. and I tried to approach this the way I would with my students. What am I really concerned about?
Concern #1: is she using it in a healthy way as she grows into adulthood or is her experience with her casting her into the doldrums?
We waited for a thread to emerge that we could hold on to. We found it when we sensed part of our moral code emerging as we talked: we need to talk to people in real life. It’s not enough to think about people, talk about people behind closed doors or in our minds, we need to reach out, converse, be kind, make the world a better place, make friends. So much more better could happen in the world if we only talked.
Which translates to — if you saw any of these friends at the market or at the library, would you entertain having a catch-up conversation with them?
If not, why do you allow yourself to peer into their lives?
The way we approached this was through her friends:
Are these people she would actually come and have a conversation with on a normal day?
When was the last time she spoke to some of these friends?
Who did you know? Who don’t you know? Who do you want to know more? How can you achieve this in reality to cultivate a meaningful and richer life?
We had a brief discussion about our views, but left her with the bulk of those questions to figure out on her own. I told her, “this isn’t about our negotiating your choices… it’s about helping you see a viewpoint so you can make the best choices for yourself.”
Because I’d been in the vacuum of cyberspace. It can get pretty lonely, no matter how much information or how many words from someone are running through your mind.
Nothing beats human companionship, IMHO.