Thursday, May 21, 2009

Losing Face on Facebook

Fire-Dance Mask

It began small. One comment on The Wall. Two teens, starting something, the way teens are apt to do. In 'real life', something like this stays relatively contained. Five kids find out, maybe ten. In a few days it blows over.

Not on Facebook. Within hours, the comments were flying. Not just between the two original combatants but, when a friend heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend... well, the whole school got involved and one teen who had been successful, popular, is now devastated. Hundreds, literally hundreds of kids know the story and it isn't blowing over. It's viral all right, in the worst sense of the word.

When I heard about this, from the child's distressed mother, I felt sad. Her child may just suffer for the remainder of a school career. Oddly, I also thought that this child's experience is a vital piece of the social media picture. Who knew it could happen until it did, and so we learn a little bit more about how (or how not) to navigate this cyberworld. Hopefully, a company like Facebook (who the mother contacted), will also learn a little bit more about what still needs to happen at the level of functionality to reduce the frequency of such incidents (I'm talking about giving users maximum control and flexibility in how 'friends' are sorted, categorized, etc., to mirror the way we create hierarchies of intimacy and boundary in 'real life'.)

Since it is poetry Thursday (Friday :), I thought to craft a Facebook poem. Because, for me, poetry sometimes speaks best in those ambiguous places the world is still struggling to understand...

"Morning After"

It started out innocent
enough. What did he know?
I felt so round and easy

in his palm, cool and brittle.
I must have seemed hard
boiled, ready to roll onto

The Wall. Anyway, he pulled
the corners of my mouth
into a smirk, then tossed

me up top to taunt the
tall guy who likes to joust
and flirt with ladies in

waiting. Everyone was there
when it happened, all the
kings horses (you know

how it goes) and all the
kings men, dashed me
to pieces again and again,

and I ask you, where does
it end? Even now some
dark-haired woman has

carted me to her blog
and is sorting, poking
through yolk and shell

to see what she might
leverage into a poem that
might be read in Guam.

Mask created by Sara and Sonia. Photo by L.L. Barkat.

High Calling Blogs Poetry as Spiritual Practice
nAncY’s mask poem
Marcus’s Bird Watching
Monica’s Paper
Laura’s Glass
Papa Poet's Progressive Lens
Brian’s Mask
Stacy’s The Cave
Blue’s Swan Song
Emily’s trying it out
Lynne’s Moon Speaks
Yvette’s Master’s Table
Claire's Reflections on Colour
Ted's Silence
Jennie's Standing
Sara's "Cello" and "Piano"
Emily's Scarlet Seeker
Jennifer's Ideal
Deb's Cuff of Thorns
Cheri's Captured
Milton's sping planting
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah...on click of the button and words are spread so easly!

so easily, the web as a weapon.

i like the poem.

3:19 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Sad story, it can be such a sad world. I liked your poem.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Prairie Chick said...

I've been thinking alot about Facebook lately. What a strange world it is where intimate exchanges are displayed publicly and some sort of strange peeping Tom show takes place between friends and friends of friends. I refuse to write on people's walls anymore, if I want to communicate with them I send a private message. Another friend brought it to my attention how just watching her "friends" banter back and forth about what they did without her created a strong insecurity and sense of exclusion... lands sakes who needs that??? Seriously woke me up to not wanting to cause that kind of feeling for other people and therefore I keep personal exchanges private. Blogging comments can be much the same, when friends start bantering inside comments and exchanges about "what we did yesterday or what we will be doing tomorrow" back and forth when they know other friends of theirs are reading it and immediately "excluded" it's really tacky. In a world sadly lacking in etiquette, the virtual world is exponentially worse in cases like this. Some class please... that's what I look for. Guess that's why you can find me here *wink*.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

My daughter and I were just talking about what things will be like by the time she has teens (she's 20). I think many parents are just now catching on to the world teens coexist in side by side with the world mom and dad see.
There is much room for evil sadly.

That is the whole reason I got a myspace and then facebook so I could peek around the corner and keep them accountable. I'm sad for the girl and her mom and will shoot up a prayer for comfort and wisdom in handling it .

I lived in Guam for 4 years :)

8:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...


Much to think about here. We struggle with how much freedom to give our children in these arenas. I'd like to get on the high horse and say I'm on top of all the things they see and do in cyberspace, but I know that would be naive. Our guys haven't yet entered the realm of Facebook/Myspace (oh, fate, please ignore that statement), but our youngest has recently started his own webpage:


and he is mightily interested in these things.

All things in moderation?

I guess as parents it is our job to pick up the pieces, and hopefully prevent the shattering if we can. Trusting God in the midst of a hurting child is one of the most difficult things I have ever faced.

Praying for those involved.


4:06 PM  
Anonymous Marcus Goodyear said...

L.L., this is so good. Really, several examples of some of the best things you do are coming together in this poem.

My favorite part though, was the twist on the nursery rhyme:

all the
kings horses (you know

how it goes) and all the
kings men, dashed me
to pieces again and again,

Then you poking through yolk and shell. Cool.

4:53 PM  
Blogger TUC said...

Oh, LL, what you can make into a delicious poem!

Reading this post I got to remembering the bathroom stall wall in highschool and all the juicy (true? false?) tidbits scrawled out for all the world to see... the world was smaller then, thankfully.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Quite interesting, L.L. Sophisticated. I have much to learn, but I like it.

You'll be interested in my post this morning, as I mention my "at last" attempt at poetry, and the exchange we have over on my blog.

Thanks for pushing me over the edge. :)

10:14 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Wonderful poem and amazing thoughts. I never considered how hurtful Facebook could be. I am enjoying reading the poems of others and am enjoying participating in the weekly RAPs.

Hope that you have a wonderful weekend!

2:24 AM  
Blogger Scott R. Davis said...

very good post L.L. Barkat. I understand the cruelty of the world just in its insulated bubble pre-internet days of just from within the wings of a school. How cruel kids can be there. glad that I was not part of a cyber world of cruelty. thanks for the excellent poem tying in every day life and fairy tale and making it so real.

10:19 PM  

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