Usually, around this date, I post something here complaining about my birthday. It usually also is somehow connected to my vanity, which is derived entirely from my comparative youth. Today is my birthday, and true to form, I am here to complain. I spent my evening doing possibly the most un-birthday-ish thing I could think of. I went to a presentation on how to keep your children safe on the internet, and specifically, on social networking sites. Without going into detail, there were reasons, specific and serious, that compelled me to attend this event. Despite it being my birthday, I needed to participate in this, and also, be seen participating in this.
I wasn't sure entirely what to expect - when the request that this event be funded by parent council was brought forward, all we were told was that this guy really means business, and doesn't sugar-coat things, just tells you the things you need to be told. It seemed like the sort of thing that could be useful, something that would give me information or tools that I needed, that I could put to practical use.
I started trying to type out a list of the things that I supposedly 'learned' at this event, but I can't. It infuriates me. I understand that maybe not everyone has embraced social networking like I have - I have, at one time or another, had 3 different Facebook accounts, 2 twitter accounts, 4 different google accounts (2 google plus accounts), 2 msn accounts, 2 Skype accounts, a yahoo ID, ICQ, Second Life, multiple blogs, a tumblr account, 2 flickr accounts, a pinterest account and an instagram account. I have had any number of networking/texting/chatting apps on my smartphone including two different Facebook apps, Skype, WhatsApp, Kakao Talk, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Find Friends, Game Center, a number of email accounts and oh, yeah, an unlimited international texting plan (before you are horrified, this is over the course of years, and most of those are now inactive) - but I think it's really unnecessary for the school to pay someone to come in and explain to parents what Twitter is, and what Instagram is, and what a f*cking selfie is. Internet savvy or not, if you haven't figured out LOL yet, you're out of luck, and you don't need to understand that a hashtag is this (#) to keep yourself or your child safe online. Yes, I KNOW Google owns YouTube, and YouTube isn't censored. Thank you for explaining to me that I need to only post photos on Facebook for 48 hours and then delete them so Google can't 'get' them. It was wonderful of you to teach me how to google myself. And you know, just to be sure I wasn't just ranting without knowing what I was talking about, I DID google myself, using 3 different variations of my name, and you know how many images I found of myself? Three. All images readily handed over to be published online when I gave interviews about my artwork. The rest of the hits were from my Etsy store (also, happy to have them come up in a search!) and my photography website. There was not a single FB photo (profile photo or photo I was tagged in) that appeared. I wonder if I should be concerned though, that the pics that did show up, and really, most of my pics on Facebook, are not the prescribed head-and-shoulders shots, but closer to the "selfies" you taught us about, which are bad, for some unspecified reason.
Ah, that's it. That's my problem. Aside from the fact that I was taught about technology I already knew at least as much as the teacher about, what I really object to is the very not-impartial moralizing of what we should and shouldn't allow our kids to do. Asserting that children should not be allowed to lie about their ages to create accounts is one thing. Saying that there is only one appropriate way to take a photo of oneself, or asserting that your child really doesn't NEED a tumblr account, without explaining why it's unncessary or redundant takes this out of the realm of expert teaching facts and right down to random guy giving you his opinion on the internet. His opinion on products that, by his own admission, he doesn't use. And we're thanking him for doing it, we're applauding and we're writing him a big fat cheque at the end.
I know I'm being grouchy, I do. But it's my birthday, I'm entitled.