Facebook Phenomenon: Facing It

FACEBOOK PHENOMENON

In the past week or so, I’ve read and seen a couple things regarding the Facebook phenomenon as I see it. If you missed the CNBC piece on Facebook entitled “Facebook Obsession” you can look up more information on it at http://www.cnbc.com/id/39618344/
In our local paper here, The Palm Beach Post, on February 4th there was an article printed entitled “Teen Crisis: To friend or unfriend Mom and Dad?” by Tracy Correa of with McClatchy Newspapers that can be seen at http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/a-teens-tough-call-should-i-friend-mom-1231753.html?cxtype=rss_news
It is amazing how Facebook has infiltrated our lives—of course, I am speaking about those who have signed onto Facebook as there are many who have chosen not to.

New Social Strand

Perhaps it’s the frenetic pace of live that we all collectively sense we are undergoing that makes a social networking program like Facebook alluring to use daily. I recall there was/is Friendster and MySpace but Facebook certainly seems to have gained much more popularity for a variety of reasons. One may be that socially-geared programs before it allowed for lessons to be learned in terms of being widely user-friendly. Second, many businesses have picked up on the advantage of signing up with a program like Facebook because of how it easily spreads the word to potential customers and allows for free or low-cost advertising.

World Wide Café Setting

I personally was one of the reluctant ones to jump on the Facebook bandwagon. It is well-documented in my statements on the internet and in my circle of family and friends that I distrust the rampant use of technology for sharing things like our financial information, consumer transactions and social networking through programs like Facebook or even a Google email account. Yet, ever the cautious hypocrite, I ended up on Facebook partly because I had just transitioned to a new season in my life as a first-time mother and CEO of the home (i.e. homemaker). After I got through the initial awkwardness of having a “facebook page” of my own, I felt like I was logging onto an international café every time I put in my password.

Mobile Café

The other feature that put Facebook in such a public forum was that somehow, sometime along the way, it found its way to applications on mobile phones. Before the catch phrase was “smart phone” and “apps”, you could not only log on your Google, Hotmail MSN or Yahoo email accounts, you could add Facebook on that refresh application option. It’s so easy to check on your “Newsfeed” on Facebook in your phone during the day. With a click you can “Like” or “Dislike” something or even go as far as to comment on something one of your colleagues put as their status.

Good for Us?

I still treasure a note that is sent through the now archaically-termed “snail mail” as I send my own hand-written sentiments to those I hold dear in this life. However, as texting was the new direct way to communicate without interrupting someone’s day too much, Facebook also serves as a non-confrontational but nice-casual way of saying hello or posting information that is either helpful or directed to a specific person or cause. For most adults, (ironic that Facebook was initially started for college students only), I think Facebook is like that corner of the playground we would all hang out at to shoot the breeze when were experiencing the waning years of our adolescence and we just wanted to bond through dialogue.

Facebook Fallout and Fallacy

The flip-side of Facebook’s social revolution is its effect on those in the college age range and younger. If you happen to read the above article link or have read something similar, it is increasingly obvious that many pre-teens and teenagers are now logged on to social networking programs like Facebook and find it to be an easier way of hiding their social experimentation or growth. This is a tricky, perilous predicament for both the youth and the parents thereof. Every generation has tried to hide their dalliances into adulthood from their parents—I’m not going to argue that recurring fact. But, that doesn’t mean that parents should just stand by and actively allow their minor-aged children to engage on Facebook or a site similar to it. The ramifications of posting our personal messages on social sites or simple email accounts are just beginning to show how they be a negative on our transactions later in life like when a graduate is seeking a new job. I would need to write another article posting altogether to pick apart why parents should just grit their teeth and be temporarily “disliked” for banning their children from this sort of unchaperoned internet social networking.

Future of Facebook?

I’m not a computer engineer, although I do have family and friends who are in touch with the waves of technology washing over our planet and they do share with me that there are always newer and better things ahead. Facebook definitely seems to have a hold on the 20s. 30s and 40s age groups out there and perhaps with that active group following and as long as those who run the company keep reinventing their social wheel—they’ll stick around in a Google-like fashion. Nevertheless, I still trust in the human connection as being not based solely on the screen(s) that I use to tap into a website, blog, email account or social networking website: we all need consistent care in other areas of our physical and spiritual senses to feel connecting to each other in an enduring fashion. Let’s hope we can keep that lesson going as we teach our children born into this amazingly instant-information age.

RVSB

Palm Beach County’s Possible Folly: Easing Ban On Cellphones in Schools?

Generally speaking, every morning it takes me a nice cup or two of coffee to help me open my eyes and get the fuzz off my brain’s exterior.  However, this morning I was spared my routine overdose of caffeine by the Palm Beach Post’s front page article entitled “Plan to ease school district’s policy on cellphones gets fuzzy reception” that sent shock waves through my cerebellum.   If you don’t live in Palm Beach County, Florida, you can look up the article written by Ms. Cara Fitzpatrick on their website at www.palmbeachpost.com: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/schools/palm-beach-county-school-board-gets-hung-up-535575.html

I struggled to read through the entire article without yelling aloud in back talk as I’m prone to do–especially if I’m watching political pundits on TV.  Evidently there is a group of school technology officials in Palm Beach County that are suggesting that school board members consider easing the district’s restrictions on cellphone use, possibly using them in classroom instruction.

As I must applaud the creativity of using texting to send out memos to students during the day, I also abhor the idea of further overwhelming our youth with technology that offers little benefit overall.

The reality is that as with much of the technology bingeing that our society has participated in only the last three decades, the cons come out much later after we’ve been sold on the pros of the latest gadget or concept (like the world-wide web internet).

In this particular case, school officials have essentially become perhaps a little worn down by the constant need to reprimand their students for illicit cellphone use.  At the same time, I do believe that parents are to fault for sending their children to school with a cellphone in tow.  As for you parents that may be reading this and get upset with me: then at least consider if you do deem it a necessity for your child to carry that cellphone on their person, you are also responsible for ensuring that they do not use that phone during school hours unless it is a serious emergency on your part or theirs (which, honestly, those calls should be conducted in the school administration office, not in the classroom).

One of the ideas for a revised mobile phone policy in Palm Beach County mentioned that “use of cellphones would be ‘generally banned’ in schools, but would be allowed in classrooms for the instructional purposes as determined by the teacher and principal”.  Again, we’ve already learned that computers, both desktops and laptops, offer some benefits in classroom use, but they cannot replace the instructor-student interaction necessary for proper learning as appropriate for the respective grades.  Why would we then incorporate cellphone use on top of a pre-existing educational technology with bigger screens and memory?

A funny proposal was the one I read that offers “students, parents, school employees and others would be allowed to use electronic signatures to sign documents.”  Now I think we’ve truly gone tech-stupid.  The moment a John Hancock is too much for a parent to do in person for their child just makes me angry.  You may want to argue with me on this one and I invite you to do so because perhaps I’m simply a dinosaur in this regard.  I still think I want my child to bring a paper to me in person so we can discuss what it’s asking of he/she as well as myself to sign off on.  Why would we want to treat our interaction with our children regarding their education like some faceless technology swap with our big-wigs at the office or the bank loan officer we’d rather not meed in person?

Ultimately, the article leaves the cellphone discussion “to be continued” in this school board’s case in Palm Beach County, Florida.  It did wake me up again to the fact that our idea of how school was for us certainly is not the same for our children today.  However, I also stand firm that change doesn’t mean throwing away the template completely to make way for something that we still don’t know the true ramifications of in the future.

I’ve written before on the subject of the current epidemic of today’s children not knowing how to interact outdoors in nature unabated.  That is a direct result of a number of factors, mostly involving overuse and overstimulation of TV, video games, computers and other indoor medias that have paralyzed an entire generation of kids.  We must tread carefully as we now witness our technology becoming increasingly handheld, head held (like the annoying blue tooth, I lasted with that for a few months before I decided no thanks).

Of course I’m not saying that we can avoid it entirely.  But I know we as parents do still hold the key to teaching our children how to exercise moderation in every aspect of their lives with technology increasingly becoming a pervasive part of it for them.  Already I am curbing in my own usage and have found that it benefits me personally as well as hopefully an example for my son T.A.–and, no, he will not have his own cellphone in middle school, I can promise you that.

RVSB

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"