For those that don’t know, every week I ask my Facebook friends to suggest a blog topic and the one with the most “Likes” is the winner. I have 24 hours to write about 500 words on whatever wins, no matter what it is. Sometimes it gets…weird. Other times it is a serious social issue. Last week was a poem (please god no more poems). Whatever it is, I write it off the top of my head at the time and it may not be well thought out.
Anyway…this week’s Blog Challenge is brought to you by my friend Rachel. Her suggestion won by a single vote. I damn near had to write about Zombie Jesus. Instead it’s:
“How social media has made parenting more challenging.”
Once upon a time, when humanity was young, we had villages to help raise the children. Every village had grandmothers that had been through a few births to help ease the fears of young women newly pregnant, grandfathers to tell young men that the emotional demons possessing their wives will likely leave after they give birth, “uncles” to teach the boys how to flirt with girls (and explosives), “aunts” to teach girls sarcastic rejections (and culinary retaliation), and older children to teach how to not get caught with firecrackers and ipecac. Parents had a full support crew. For every issue there was someone that had dealt with the same thing, or near enough. And best of all, everyone knew who the village idiot was, even the children. If Uncle Dingus told you that getting bit by a rattle snake would cure your acne, you knew it was bullshit simply BECAUSE it was Uncle Dingus that told you.
At some point we eschewed the village. We pushed away our neighbors, isolated ourselves from the varied opinions and beliefs and disciplinary tactics. Now we lose our freaking minds when we find out some dude taught our children how to make a frag grenade with a shot gun shell, a bee bee, tape, and a stick.
Now we can’t tell who Uncle Dingus is anymore. How do new parents know to not listen to the reasonable sounding friend that diagnoses any quirk with autism which was caused by vaccines, or milk caused the ear infection, or that because pineapples contains (a minuscule amount of) bromelain that they are five times more effective than cough syrup, or even to not shake your bottle of breast milk because it can denature the proteins. Social media gives every Dingus an equal voice with the wise grandmothers. Unfortunately, on social media the Dingus to grandmother ratio is skewed strongly in favor of the ignorant over the wise.
When the villages were disbanded the idiots went online, found articles written by other village idiots, and spread misinformation with the confidence that only the truly ignorant can muster. Parenting is so much harder now because we can’t see the dunce caps on the people advising us to never (or always) let your children out of your sight, or always (or never) give antibiotics.
A few weeks ago I saw a parent post on Facebook that her child had a fever of 101.5, and that she felt sorry for the poor little thing. Within moments there were a dozen responses with (unsolicited) bad advice. One person even suggested, in all caps, to CALL 911 NOW! Really? Are you shitting me? I’m on my fourth child now; I don’t even let my kids stop tilling the fields until their temp reaches at least 102. (I’m kidding, stop it with the hate mail.)
We need a special font, or text color, for people that don’t know the difference between causation and correlation, or know what peer-reviewed means, or how to look for cited sources.
Or perhaps a star rating for each child successfully raised to adulthood. And by successful, I don’t mean simply “survived”, I mean your adult child is not a bigot, or racist, or sexist, or homophobic, isn’t a zealot and will fight for what is right and is willing to concede when wrong. I’ll call it The Social Media Parenting Advice Star Rating. Next time someone says everything (or anything) you are doing is wrong and will cause irreparable harm, ask them their star rating. If it is less than one, tell them to fuck off*. If it is one or two, maybe take a moment and reflect on what you are doing. If it is five or more, stop everything you are doing because you might be turning your child into the next Jason Voorhees , or worse, Ted Cruz.
*Partial points will be awarded to those without children that are wonderful people because (or in spite) of the actions of their own parents.
Thanks for reading,
Oh, and let me know in the comments how I got everything wrong, and don’t forget to find me on Facebook if you want to play next week.