Our Society faces an issue that can no longer be ignored. This weekend, I was extremely happy to find my favorite Halloween tradition while flipping channels: “Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.” The unparalleled excellence of this American masterpiece inspired me to share my joy with my friends through the power of that benevolent monopoly known as Facebook. The post I went with was, admittedly, a little vulgar and I used a word that would bump a PG movie up to PG-13. The statement was not especially appropriate and could be seen as offensive by any number of people. Still, I was surprised by the two messages I received within five minutes of my comment’s creation. Both were from relatives expressing their disapproval. As a great man once said, “this aggression will not stand.”
Facebook’s ubiquity has been in the news quite a bit lately, following the widespread acclaim received by the movie dramatizing its creation, “The Social Network.” In the beginning, “the Facebook” found early success by emphasizing exclusivity; only users with specific email addresses were allowed to sign up. Once the website had established itself as the premier network for college-age trend definers, it opened its doors to the masses. Disaster soon followed.
We live in an age where the words “should old acquaintances be forgot,” are now as outdated as car phones. Everyone is online and everyone you have ever known is on Facebook. Not a month goes by without a grade school classmate, or high school teacher finding and friending the unsuspecting college student. And there in lies the rub. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and assorted other loved ones who could easily be ignored through the magic of busy schedules and caller i.d. have now found a backdoor into our social lives. Every photo, link or comment is now subject to the judging and antiquated morals of the preceding generations (which are responsible for disco, jean shorts and the financial meltdown). The only solution is a Soviet-style purge.
Elderly sympathizers will argue that proper profile management can control who sees what content, that self-censorship can prevent uncomfortable encounters round the Thanksgiving table, and that denying family friend requests can all eliminate these issues without resorting to despotic discrimination. I answer these charges by asking my critics to gaze at the world around them. We live in a culture where texting has born a new language to replace the drawn out constraints of written English, and DVR’s have freed Americans from the shackles of regularly scheduled television. We are far too impatient to utilize the filtering methods suggested by the bleeding hearted. As for denying the requests of our beloved elders, can any of you really imagine telling your great aunt Ida she can’t be your “friend”?
Youth is a ready-made excuse for misbehavior. This is the only time in our lives where uninformed judgment is combined with the legal ability to act on your worst instincts. The evolution of human communication and interaction should not be allowed to take that away. By permitting anyone and everyone to easily track and respond to our every indiscretion, Facebook has stolen our God given right to dual identities: one for the world and one for your family. The only humane and effective measure is to build new walls between young and old; to replace those Facebook has torn down. Tell your relatives, teachers and un-wanted lurkers that your profile is only accessible to other college-aged individuals. Then promptly change your account settings to private.As the dear leader, George W. Bush, used to say, “There aught to be limits to freedom.” Kick the parents off of Facebook and let the student debauchery continue.
Nick White is a sophomore history major.
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