It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that the fax machine was a pretty cool invention. One could take a letter written on a piece of paper and transmit that sucker to another place. No stamps. No envelopes. No delays. It was pretty close to instant communication.
Along came email and the communication was even quicker. Gone were the trips to the downstairs office where the fax machine stood and the text was so much easier to read and manipulate on a computer.
Fast forward a few years and people created websites like Myspace and Facebook and people were chatting and sharing pictures and videos. Email remained an important business communication tool. But as a personal communication tool, email began to lose favor.
By the time Facebook hit full stride, my children were computer literate and way too socially active for my tastes. So, like millions of other parents, I made my own Facebook page, mostly to keep up with what the children were writing and posting. Still, I found myself sending emails to my children. It didn’t take long for me to realize they weren’t seeing the emails because they no longer checked email regularly. Any communications they wanted to have took place on Facebook. So, I started forwarding emails to my children and sending them Facebook messages to let them know they had an email from me.
Suddenly, all the communication tools were walking over each other and I was doing double duty.
It took a while, but I got my children back in the habit of checking their email once a day, just in case their old man had sent them something.
I continued to watch the Facebook traffic and, occasionally required the children to take down posts that I thought were over the top. For the most part, though, that wasn’t a problem.
The problem came, when the shifting sands of social media caught my children in its swirl. As their friends started moving away from Facebook, they took to Twitter. My job of keeping up with my children was getting tougher.
All this came to a head for me Monday night as our family watched our weekly program Castle.
That episode featured a story line in which the main character found his teenage daughter’s video blog. Her post was fairly innocent, but Castle was up in arms over how much of her personal life she was posting for everyone to see. He eventually came to grips that his daughter, now in college, was old enough to make her own decisions.
My children aren’t quite in college, yet, but I came to understand that, much as I might dislike it, I have to give them more leeway as they get older. And I have to hope that the parenting their mother and I ’ve already done has the desired effect when it comes time to make decisions about just what they post for the whole world to see.
Sort of makes you pine for the old days of the fax machine and stamps and envelopes.