Digital Foot, Cyber Mouth
I am always saying the wrong thing. You know those people who "overshare"? Yep, that's me. The woman at work who starts an email talking about her ideas for an upcoming project and then ends the email in tears over the budgie that broke its neck when she was a kid? Mm-hmm. Me. The 'would she shut UP already?' lady.
It's a problem I've had since I discovered my voice, which luckily for my grade school teachers, was not until high school. I used to be a shy, frightened of my own shadow, wallflower book-addict who listened to her parents italian folk music and kept a low profile. Then one day, in grade nine, they smacked me into a sexy little kilt, put on the C & C Music Factory, shipped me off to a new school and I was the SHIZZLE! You shoulda seen me. I was so frigging full of myself it's amazing I could walk to my classes without needing to be carried upon a litter. And I was smart too, averaging in the high-90s.
Where was I going with this?
Right. Big mouth. Honesty is not always the best policy Franny! But then again... honesty has its value.
I recently made the aquaintance of a young person online, aged 11, who writes as do I. I have given her feedback on her stories on the open forums, etc. Well, she asked me for some extra help with grammar/style because she likes my stuff, and I gave her my email address, asking her to get her parents permission before she contacted me and to CC her parents on our emails.
When she did not, I sent her a little reminder, saying that I apologize for being overprotective, but I was a mom and I'd want to know who my kid was emailing online, and that it would be a good idea to CC her mom & dad so that they know someone is reading/editing their daughter's creative writing (which has the potential to be sensitive in its own right), so that they can decide if it's okay or not.
To which I got a snarky little reply:
I am ELEVEN YEARS OLD. I think I am old enough to decide who I can email!!
As you can imagine, I was most charmed. Not only does this girl not tell her parents what she's up to online, but I could be a 55-yr-old male pervert for pete's sake! I tried to be cool, I honestly did. I tried to be hip with the young people, to be a role model and a mentor, but at some point you just want to send an email that says, in big bold red letters:
RESPECT YOUR ELDERS BITCH!
(No, I didn't actually say that.) But I seriously want to, because this is the type of attitude that makes kids targets. Am I just insane here? Should an 11-yr-old girl be emailing a stranger online without her parents knowing about it? And should she be giving lip to someone who is trying to help her (with her writing and with her safety) over the internet?
So, before I open my cyber mouth and insert my digital foot, what's the right thing to say now?