Sunday, 14 October 2012

Do You Want To Know A Secret ...


There is a new thing at school. Not that it is really new. It's a re-issue of that old age game of bitchiness, the one where it all starts off as a game and will end up with someone getting hurt. Possibly really badly.

This particular variation is a Facebook page called "....... Secrets" (the dots indicate the Academy's name which I am not sharing for obvious reasons) which the pupils of the not-said Academy are induced to follow to discover the deep and, predictably, dirty secrets of their peers.

It's a "thing" that has been going around the city, which has had a Secrets page to itself on both Twitter and  Facebook. So has an adjoining town though whether this phenomenon has spread to other schools and towns outside the area, I have no idea.

The basis it seems, in the manifestations I have seen, seems to be setting up either a Facebook page or Twitter account run by someone who chooses, not surprisingly, to remain anonymous. They ask followers or members to send in other people's dirty secrets and then publish them on the net for all group members and/ or followers to see. Of course the posts spread further than that as anyone can see retweets on Twitter and follower's comments made on Facebook.

"It's just a bit of fun. Everybody knows its not true," said TeenTwin2 when I saw a Facebook post that she had joined the group. She may even have rolled her eyes at my unsophisticated appreciation of modern social networking

And everyone might think it IS just a bit of fun, but the potential to cause intentional hurt is enormous. If it was a bit of fun why should the group/ account management be anonymous? If it was a bit of fun why choose only the salacious, the embarrassing and the illegal as the things to share because, surprise, surprise, every secret is about someone doing something they shouldn't have or someone doing something to someone they shouldn't have. None of which is true. Probably.

It's that "probably" that gets in the way of it being a bit of fun. There are reasons that the phrase "No smoke without fire"  is a cliche because people WILL choose to believe what is being said about people whether it's true or not.

And TeenTwin2 agreed, after I patiently explained my position* to un-join the school group that has been set up. "It's not as though I won't see what's being said," she rightly said, "Because it's on everyone else's time line."

True enough. Being a Facebook friend of friends of the TeenTwins, I've also seen what is going on too and this afternoon came across my daughter's name in one of the posts which was, well, horrible. It didn't really matter what was said, but that someone, someone unknown, had taken the trouble to say it that disturbed me most.

I am entirely grateful that I have brought all my children up not to give much of a stuff about what people think about them and that they have the confidence to deal with anonymous rumours without falling, completely, to pieces. And deal with it she did, with humour and panache *relieved face* but I'm not sure that everyone who ends up named, shamed and giggled at by their peers would or could.

And if, or maybe when, someone, anyone, fails to see the "funny side" of what those anonymous posts say about them then none of it will be very much fun anymore.

At all.


*had a bit of a rant

5 comments :

  1. Wow. What a nasty group. This makes me a) glad that the internet wasn't around when I was at school and b) terrified for my son that it exists now. Cyber bullying really frightens me.

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  2. I am forever relieved there was no social networking when I was a teen - the he said/she saids were quite bad enough via little notes and phonecalls without fb and twitter to publish them on! xx

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  3. I am pleased to report that the Secrets site has been removed after complaints were made to Facebook :)

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  4. Wow, this really is horrible. I never knew this kind of stuff was available on facebook. My eldest is about to turn 13 and I've always said 'no' to facebook before the legal age. I guess I am about to discover all of these 'delights'. Facebook has pros and cons, I am hoping for her to discover the pros and I will certainly warn her of the cons. Am so pleased to read that the group has been removed. So inappropriate! Any tips for me as a mother of a facebook user?!

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    1. Only tip I would give you is make sure you set up the Facebook account, control the privacy and have access to it (so you know the email and password). That is the only way I would let my teen have an account and she knows I can look when I like. It's not that I do as I'm also a friend of hers on it, but on one occasion a thread got out of hand with a girl becoming really unpleasant to my daughter, I stamped on it instantly much to this nasty little things surprise. It's never happened again but you do have to watch who they become friends with but it's hard with them all wanting every person in their school as one LOL Also, she's had the talk about people not being who they seem to be, never meeting anyone, etc, etc. Paranoid? Maybe but I'd rather be safe than sorry :)

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