Filtering

say-that-out-loudThe other day I was in my bedroom changing my clothes when my 5 year old walked in.  I was standing there in my underwear and her little face lit up and she started jumping up and down excitedly and clapping “MOM!!!  Are you going to have another baby?!?!?”  She was so excited, I almost hated to burst her bubble.  Almost.  But then I quickly responded “No!”  I knew better than to ask why she was asking.  But she proceeded to tell me anyway.  “I just saw your stomach sticking out and I thought there was a baby in there”.  Nope, not a baby, just my lunch and some extra lbs I’ve been trying to lose since you came out of my uterus 5 years ago. 

I couldn’t even be that upset about the exchange.  The charming (and, at times, humiliating) innocent characteristic of children is that they tell it like it is.  Their filters are as yet undeveloped.  If I really want to know if my butt looks big in a pair of jeans there is no way I am going to ask my husband.  I’m going to ask a five year old.  Five year old don’t bullshit.

I’m not sure at what age kids start to develop their ability to filter, I’m guessing around 8 for girls and about 28 for boys?  But I do know for a fact that some people never develop this ability.  I earn a living in part by working with impulsive adolescents trying to help them develop a filter and, more importantly, to use it.  That’s the hardest part for anybody, but especially for pissed off, hormonal adolescents who are trying to maintain their street cred.

Where I see normal, educated, fairly stable people lose their ability to filter themselves the most is on social networking sites.  What is it about Facebook that makes people say such stupid shit?  People seriously lose their minds as soon as their fingers hit the keyboards.  Now, I know all about the Constitution and Freedom of Speech, blah blah blah, but there are just some unspoken etiquette rules that say there are certain topics that should be off limits.  And, because I have Freedom of Speech, I can share those right here:

1.  Relationship Troubles:  Facebook is NOT the place to bad mouth your spouse.  That sort of thing is best done over a pitcher of margaritas with your girlfriends.  Because what are your Facebook friends supposed to say?  Are they supposed to “like” the  post about your husband being an insensitive ass?  Are they supposed to publicly agree with you that “yes!  finally you’re seeing what everyone else sees –  your dear wifey IS a bitch and does resemble Roseann Barr?”  NO!  Because most people do still utilize a filter and so there is no right way to respond which just makes it awkward for everyone involved.

2.  Your children’s Parent- Teacher Conference reports:  Every year in the fall and the spring I throw up a little in my mouth every time I read something like “we are so proud of Poindexter for his wonderful report at conferences tonight.  His teacher said he is the best reader in the class and has wonderful social skills.  Couldn’t be prouder!”  Puke.

I get that you’re proud of your kids and I think it’s great that they’re doing well in school.  I  just think that this sort of information is more suited for grandparents than 868 of your closest friends.  What about the poor parents who get reports from their kids’ teachers that their child has the social skills of a three-toed sloth?  Don’t you think they might feel bad hearing how wonderful your children are?  Whenever I read posts like this I am certain that what the parents are failing to mention is that the teachers also reported that Poindexter chews on other kids’ shoelaces and perpetually smells like cheese.

I think we all need to stop and think about what we are posting on Facebook.  If you are comfortable saying what you are about to post to your husband, your boss, your priest, and your mother….. go for it.

If you’re not…… write it in a blog.

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