I loved the story of media professor, Ryan Cordell, who encouraged his kids to start a Facebook campaign by saying they could adopt a puppy if they achieved viral status (1 million likes). Similarly, in November, Dan Urbano challenged his children with the (slightly) less daunting task of accumulating 1,000 likes before he’d give in and get them a cat. At first, I was concerned that ingenious and *sometimes* manipulative kids would discover how easy it is to reach the world with their tactics – globalizing the guilt-trips to manipulate their parents on a global scale. I searched Facebook for similar campaigns and found a few other attempts. Who could resist this cute little guy?
What could make this campaign fail while the Cordell and Urbano campaigns went viral? Clever marketing? Well-connected kids? Proper grammar? Perhaps just less whining? Other kids were more successful in their campaigns, though it looks as if Facebook is not immune from the adolescent yearning for affirmation and popularity. Here are some unique posts I found:
In addition to some normal teenage attention-getting, I did find some examples of Facebook campaigns that seem ill-advised at best.
Was this kid really trying to figure out whether or not he should tell his father about his religious beliefs (or lack thereof)? Was he trying to feel less scared and alone or trying to figure out if the disclosure was worth the risk? Should something apparently so important to him really be left to chance? And… sorry folks, there’s a TON of content on Facebook now – there’s no guarantee that even your closest friends will see everything you post. Sometimes, you should consult a trusted adult rather than a potential crowd of casual, virtual acquaintances.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to stay familiar with social networking trends, because, while we may have experienced similar pressures, dabbled in youthful experiments, and taken risks in one way or another as teens, we had the luxury of privacy. Facebook posts, like anything on the Internet, can be uncovered if you search hard enough and content is not permanently deleted. A couple decades ago, a young man might have taped a sign to his back asking for high fives, or scribbled his intent on the wall of a restroom stall. Instead, this couple permanently captured their faces in a public campaign:
What if a college admissions officer tasked with deciding between student A and student B, who had nearly identical scores, grades, and extracurriculars, decides to search the Internet, even Facebook directly, and stumbles upon this? Or a future potential employer? Please, please, please talk to your kids and make sure they know that what they post on Facebook and Twitter today may haunt them tomorrow!