I have a few extra moments this morning before I get in the shower, so I quickly popped onto Facebook to post something on the store page about a tasting we're having this weekend. But the first comment on my home page is from my sister who I see is calling a woman out because of a comment she read online, on a news channel about two girls fighting on YouTube. It took place in the city my sister lives in which is unfortunately known for things far worse than two girls fighting - but it was once again, another not so great story to make the news. Anyway, the reason she was calling the woman out was because the woman used a term of "hoodrats" and "ghetto" to describe the city and the girls who made this video.
While I get why my sister got upset at the terms used...I think she missed the point of the comment. The crux of the statement was because once again, a negative story came out about the city and it makes the city and it's residents look bad. It's a generalization and stereotyping statement, which yes - is wrong - but unfortunately the way this woman reacted is probably the way most people who hear the story react.
My reaction to the story isn't to the woman who made the comment - but to the children.
I've written about this before, and I'll do it many times over. Why is it that there is the unquenched thirst for "popularity" over the internet? Why do children feel the need to do ugly things to other people in order to gain acceptance. Fighting, bullying, and bad behaviour - sure that's nothing new. It's been going on for centuries; we're a savage society, it's in our blood. But the desire to publicly hurt others, to me is mindblowing, especially in young children.
In an age when television isn't celebrity, it's reality - the perception of what is socially acceptable behaviour is blurred with what was always considered horribly inacceptable behaviour. When children have access to have Snooki as a role model, or watch Teenage Mom - or my beloved Family Guy -- how are they to take what their parents are trying to teach them seriously?
Yes, there are ways to try to prevent their access; but it's almost impossible now. Even my own children have access to things that I cringe at; and there are times when I throw my hands in the air in disgust because I have lost the control. For an example, you reward the kids with a televison in their bedroom and allow for basic cable. DVDs get old (and expensive!), so you want them to be able to watch some of their favorite shows in bed before bedtime, or when they're sick. But on basic cable - there are no parental controls. You can't block by age rating or show like you can on a television that has a cable box. So how do you prevent curious minds from clicking through channels and watching shows that are clearly not meant for kids??? You can't. Unless you hover over their rooms and eavesdrop the whole time. And there are times I've done that, believe me. But that isn't always an option. So what can you do? You can take the cable out of the room.... But is that really fair either?
It's a tough job as a parent. It's a constant balance of trying to not shelter, but not overexpose either. We're not their friends, we're their role models. And I think that there needs to be some serious work done in bringing the kids of today out of the internet/social networking/immediate gratification world, and bring them back to basics of social interactions and respect - to both themselves, and each other.
There's negative aspects to the internet, as well as many endless positive aspects. But I do think that there's an age for certain exposures, and at a minium - a certain maturity level. It has to start from the home -- and children need to understand that they don't need to be accepted on the world wide platform of social networking. They don't need to bully, or be cruel to feel good.
They need to just accept who they are and feel good in their own skin....and then the social acceptance will be there.