This is a guest post by Nik Johnson. Enjoy his blog or follow him on Twitter. If you'd like to submit an article for Enemies of Reason, based on something you've read in the papers or just want to get off your chest, email me at antonvowl at live dot co dot uk.
It’s always a joy when two of the Daily Mail’s narratives combine: Immigrants killing house prices, Jonathan Ross offending the Queen or hoodies smoking and upsetting a minor celebrity on holiday in a bikini. Now it’s the turn of Facebook to face off against one of the Mail’s biggest perceived problems in this country: The Big Brother, surveillance society.
In this article, a mother allows her 11 year old daughter to register for a Facebook account. Never mind that Facebook itself says you must be 13 or older, but “the age restriction isn't policed and it's easy to give a false date of birth.” Which is fine then. If people leave their front door open, then it’s not like their TV is policed. That girl with the short skirt on? Totally not policing her body.
So already, the mother has admitted to lying to get her daughter into an entertainment site that she’s not old enough to access. Of course, this isn’t some scummer on a council estate using a stolen laptop and sponging off the state to feed her 19 children by 24 dads. Would the Mail have any sympathy with her then? No. This is what she’s all about:
We live in an affluent village in the Home Counties. My daughter is in her first year at a high-achieving comprehensive school with an outstanding Ofsted rating. She rides horses, loves dancing and is in the top set in her school year.
So, now her affluent, horse-riding daughter is on Facebook, she can be left alone to socialise with her friends, like a normal child. There’s no way Mum would do anything mental, like snoop on her daughter in the way that New Labour did.
One afternoon she accessed Facebook via my mobile phone and then forgot to log off - inadvertently allowing me to remain logged on as her and giving me admittance to her online life. For a week, I was able to eavesdrop on her and observe her conduct.
Oh, right. She, er, did. But that’s okay, because it’s for her daughter’s own good, because she’s using a service she’s too young for. But that’s okay too, because Facebook is THE DEVIL DOT COM.
How would you feel if your mother had read your diary, or somehow listened in on your childhood conversations? Jesus, what if she could read or hear what you say in the pub, on the Internet or while trying to coax your wife into anal sex?
Especially the moment I read my daughter describe me as a 'f***ing cow' to one of her friends after I grounded her for an unrelated misdemeanour. 'I hate her,' she wrote of me, which passed like a knife through my heart
Oh yeah, and kids say things like this. Constantly. But now her poor daughter will be terrified to even think about anything, in case her mother is hovering over her shoulder or sitting at home reading along on her phone, then printing the results in the bloody newspaper. Welcome to the world of massive privacy insecurities.
All instigated because mummy bowed before a tantrum and let her little girl onto the Internet, and instead of parenting her properly and using Facebook with her, spied on her:
Did I feel guilty for spying on her? To begin with, I admit I had a few misgivings and felt I had let Clare down by not trusting her. But the terrifying things I learned meant that horror and dismay very quickly replaced those feelings.
So that’s fine then. And of course, as a caring parent who is “dismayed” by what she reads, including her darling 11 year old daughter calling someone a “bitch”, and a status update that says “I’d like to stamp on her head” (although probably in irritating teen speak, so “id l1ke 2 stmp on hrdisgj”), her reaction is to close her account.
My first instinct, of course, was to take her off the site altogether - however much Clare insisted my surreptitious observations were unfortunate, but not typical of her life online. I also knew that eventually she would find her way back on to Facebook. So I made Clare a deal. Between us, we would go through every so-called friend on her account and delete anyone she didn't know in person. Anyone who had posted abuse would be blocked.
Oh, right, er. Hmm. Because that worked well last time.
Clare agreed that she would never accept requests from strangers to become her Facebook friend ... I quickly learned that Clare not only accepts friendship requests from kids much older than herself whom she doesn't even know - she also approaches strangers so that she can be seen to have as many Facebook friends as possible.
Mum is a liar, daughter is a liar. That’s the real moral of this story. Regardless of the medium they use.