Why Facebook Why Now?
About 16 years ago, long before sense and sensibility took over the Facebook or let’s say, the audience of Facebook matured, I was a very enthusiastic wide-eyed first-year teacher. Swimming in the ocean that is first-year teaching, I was hit with waves of worry that were just barely balanced by the love of what I was doing. In the midst this, the dark shadow of an untethered social media monster crept into my classroom and into my school.
It was in my first two years of teaching that I took it upon myself to be the watchdog over my grade 6 and 7 students as they became entangled in the World Wide Web, and in particular with their use of Facebook. With no guidance, and Facebook being relatively new, it was truly the wild wild West. I found myself guarding that very thin line between chaos and order in the social lives of pre-teens, which to me was absolutely terrifying.
My students and those I coached, approached me on a regular basis about online bullying, threats and an overall fear because of confrontations that happened on Facebook the night before. Oh sure there was – once upon a time – ICQ and MSN which were popular too, but the magnitude of bullying on Facebook surpassed those two services easily and by far. So I started educating kids the only way I knew how: I taught them about safety, etiquette and above all else I told them to stay off Facebook because they were all underage. That was the beginning of what I faced.
About one year into the ‘Facebook phenomenon’ I found myself, on too many occasions, standing at the front of the school stopping high school would-be assailants, from entering my school to beat the you-know-what out of gr. 6, 7 or 8 students at my school for posts they had made on Facebook. To this day those students have no idea this happened.
CITY TV also conducted a feature on my work to stop cyber-bullying and it went so far as working with Toronto Police to identify locations for staged fights established on Facebook. My taste for the social media site was sour from the get-go, and I never stuck around to see it change – and it did.
As years passed I did my best to dabble in Facebook but the stigma was too strong and I was far too stubborn. I began missing things.. Began missing growth, lessons, life changing events.. I stayed of the road that led to that info and it was my own doing.
I still witness some of my former students practicing what I taught them during those early years, even though now they are employed, married and working citizens. I wonder if I did too much to protect them or was it enough?
Now, 16 years later, my best friend’s wife, set out to get my wife on Facebook and in doing so forced me to reconsider and I’m so glad I did. As a teacher, a resource for technology in education and staff of a professional development department I had had enough of my self-inflicted state of irony. It was time to go to where my friends and family were and to admit I was overdue. And so here we are and I’m so grateful for it.
We do want to share and we so want to celebrate. We have 4 beautiful and vibrant children, friends and family that we love and that are a part of that village it takes to raise our children. If you’re reading this now then that’s you.
Thank you for meeting me on the other side..