We are asked, from time to time, what advice we'd give parents and kids about learning how to navigate the Internet. The first advice we give is don't expect your kids to be able to navigate the Internet alone. It's like walking down a dark downtown alley in the middle of the night, you never know what you're going to find - maybe it will be empty and maybe you'll find a predator. Or maybe you'll panic yell fire and all hell will break loose.
However, all of that can be hard to explain and even harder for kids to understand. Recently there was a very public exchange on Facebook that may serve to help illustrate some of the Internet's pitfalls.
It all started with a woman being offended by an Internet meme. For anyone interested in the entire, lengthy exchange, here is the link to the 5Bravo Facebook page.
As the story goes, due to being offended the woman reported the page or the post to Facebook for content violations. This resulted in one of the page admins being put in "Facebook jail" for 30 days and the meme being taken down. First piece of advice comes from Frozen, "Let it go" you don't like a meme, think it's rude, etc, Let it go. No one is making you look at it, move on. We do not need to be living in 1984 with the Thought Police.
Next is to stop and consider what you may be starting. It's an odd subject to consider, it's not like challenging someone to a duel where death is on the line, so what does it mean to start an Internet fight? Should you? And perhaps most importantly, why on earth would you? If anyone believes this is going to step out of the realm of childish well just see for yourselves...
It was quickly removed, but yes someone did find her personal information and dox her. For those unfamiliar with the term, doxing from dictionary.com: "search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent." Doxing is not something you want to find your kids on either side of, either being doxed or doxing another person.
If you think it was only happening on Facebook you'd be missing out on Instagram and Twitter. Next piece of advice, if you've started a battle on one platform don't take it to every platform. Honestly, I have no idea what this person was thinking.
But then the whole thing got taken to the next level. These screenshots represent only a handful of the exchanges; this Internet battle appears to have become a full time job for her.
Seriously, who has this kind of time. Sure you can say she enjoys the attention or is having fun, but whatever her reasons were she did continue interacting with fans of the page. But then 5Bravo posted another message that they had received directly.
So as someone in the comments to her pointed out "Either your upset or you aren't." Figure it out... Then there's 5Bravo's response.
I mean really anyone with a basic understanding of Facebook can click on one of her replies and get her whole page as well as a fair amount of information on her.
So what's the lesson here? There are probably a few of them. First it's not worth it, seriously. She didn't like a meme and instead of scrolling on by stirred up a hornets nest. And to what end? So a whole bunch of people know her name or the name she uses on Facebook and what she looks like. If she'd stop everyone would forget about her, after all Internet fame is fleeting. Second continuing to up the ante on the Internet is pointless, sure, of the numerous comments some of these people probably live in the same state as her, but that's likely as close as it's going to get. Third the Internet doesn't care how you feel and even though someone might end up in "Facebook jail" for a little while, was that really worth all of this time sucked out of your life?
Internet fame is fleeting.
Trolling just makes you look stupid.
Don't like what you see and it's not endangering anyone, keep scrolling.