Friday, January 8, 2010

Don't be bad on facebook.

Someone I know shaved her head.
Not because she's sick, or for a cause. Just because she could.
These are the little freedoms that we take for granted.
If I shaved my head (unlikely, but still) I would have to subterraneously (well, that's what hubs said, but I think he meant simultaneously) get a tattoo that explained
*I'm not sick
*I'm not gay
*I don't have alopecia
*I didn't do it for charity
*Yes, it's weird that I'm suddenly bald
*No, I probably won't do this again. (Unless I get addicted to the attention, so stop talking about this already.)
Given that I probably have a weird-shaped head with flat and bumpy bits and I work with children, I think (a) the shaving is a bad idea and (b) a tattoo is worse. Let's face it, the piercing is bad enough, and it's not conspicuous or well-advertised.

Rambling, I know, but bear with me.

One of my ballet students want me to friend her on facebook. I've denied the request, because she's ten. I don't want or need a ten-year-old who I teach every week seeing what I get up to. (Granted, I'm not living a particularly licentious lifestyle, but I vet photos carefully and keep my language nice KNOWING that I have a professional responsibility.) Is this just me? And where is the line? Is it ok to friend these kids when they're 14? 16? 18?

I don't really want to know that a fifteen-year-old is drinking till they pass out, or walking down highways at three in the morning... and this is not about what I did or did not do at that age, it's actually about what I wanted people to know about me. Would I be embarrassed if my teacher pulled up alongside me and said "What the HELL are you doing and do your parents know where you are?" Damn straight.
Why aren't these kids?

I think these things mattered less a couple years ago when I could laugh and say I was just pretending to be grown up. I think they matter more to me than they do to a lot of people. Maybe I'm an overthinker. Possibly we're all being swept along by this new interactivity and exposure and no-one is really thinking about the social and behavioural consequences for the next generation. Bring on the fire trucks.


lindamciver said...

I was thinking a t-shirt, rather than a tattoo, but I'm clearly overly conservative. But I really, really do need the t-shirt!

I think this is a really interesting topic. The boundaries of information and friendship are shifting. In some cases, that's awesome - I am good friends with a 13 year old who used to go to my daughter's school. I give her a lift nearly every school day, and we talk a lot. She says "ily" in text all the time. And I am not so old that I don't know what that means. :)

I believe that friendship easily transcends age boundaries - one of my dearest ever friends was twice my age. He died a couple of years ago at 70something, and I miss him every day. But there is a difference between being friends with a random adult and being friends with a teacher. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I think I need to sleep and then think some more about it. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

My eleven-year-old nephew waned to befriend me on Facebook, which bothered me. Not that I post much that's inappropriate, but I had the same reservations as you do. His mother was his "friend", and finally, after months of ignoring the request, I agreed. All of the text language and misspellings drives me crazy!

But I would never be friends with a student.

Mr London Street said...

My boss is my friend on Facebook. We became FB friends before he became my boss. Now, it's a decision I regret every single day. I think if there's some kind of professional relationship, or position of authority involved, it's a plain daft thing to do. If you're the sort of person who would be comfortable with your students or your boss seeing what you say on FB, there's your first problem right there.

Herding Cats said...

I'm a teacher and there is NO way I will friend a student. If they find me in ten, twenty years when I'm not their teacher, I'm okay with that I suppose. I really don't think it's appropriate though.

Brian Miller said...

yeah, no way i friend one of my kids that i counsel...maybe down the, maybe not.

lindamciver said...

I have to ask: "Given that with children, I think the shaving is a bad idea"... I'm not disagreeing, but I am curious - why? I also know that I may be extracting a link you didn't put in (ah, what you can do with three judicious, or indeed injudicious dots...), so feel free to slap me on the keyboard. :)