This week, one of my best friends and I decided to take a few of the kids to Canberra for 2 days. For Floriade, you ask? Erm, no. We are just not that cultured. We wanted to go to Questacon and a cafe called Patissez that serve enormous drinks called Freakshakes. This was mine:
Anyway, we took the almost-teen, two toddlers and a 5 year old and as I watched them, I kept wondering about what they’d be like as they got older and started to really use the internet.
Sounds strange, I know, but bear with me.
I’ve been mucking around online for years now. Before Facebook, there were still forums and chat rooms. Facebook definitely made it mainstream to jump in and discuss things with relative strangers. Over the years, I’m sure we’ve all noticed distinct sorts of personalities that often appear online. You know what I mean- the reasonable sorts, the CAPS LOCK shouters, the ones with distinct agendas, the keyboard warriors, the super-helpful sorts and so on. Watching the kids over the last few days, a few of those sprang to mind.
The Voice of Reason.
The 12 year old was a gem. Calm, rational, patient and quiet. She was the voice of reason, like people having a discussion online who just want to help others or leave some helpful links. While her patience was tried, she barely got above muttering “gosh!” and continued to gently police the little ones, making sure they didn’t kill upset each other. She was that nice person on a forum or discussion thread, calmly breaking up squabbles and explaining what person A was actually getting at to person B to avoid an all-out keyboard war.
The little ones were quite different.
The Squealer would commence squealing at every (usually imagined) slight. Someone spoke to her, someone touched her arm, someone made a noise. She is the person on every forum or Facebook page that is mortally offended by everything and demonstrates this offence by hurling abuse at everyone. Often, at some point, they realise they’ve been going off half-cocked about something that they’ve completely misconstrued. This realisation occurs generally after it has been pointed out by 10-15 other participants. The online Squealer then has a choice- leave and let everyone get on with their discussion or acknowledge their mistake, apologise and continue on. The Squealer child may apologise, although this is rare. Generally, the fifteen explanations will eventually sink in and they will just move on. Until another kid makes a certain noise or something equally horrifying. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Are you seeing the similarities?
Then there was the Dismisser. “Don’t touch that, please” fell on deaf ears. “Stop that!” was said often but rarely acknowledged. The general response to any instruction was to continue doing whatever they were doing. There may have been the odd grunt or eye roll along with an exasperated forced apology here and there but generally, the Dismisser is very similar to someone online with an agenda. They must have their say. They are correct. They instantly dismiss your opinion or feelings or actual facts because they are hell-bent on saying whatever it is they think needs to be said. If they are told by enough people that they have been callous or hurtful, the may give a grudging apology as a means to an end. That end being they don’t want to be banned or blocked because they still have their agenda to push. The Dismisser child isn’t bothered that you want them to stop doing something. They aren’t concerned when you want them to do something. They are busy doing what they want to do. You will get that forced apology if you push for it, but don’t expect it to sound sincere. They will say it so that they can go back to doing the things they feel like doing- because it’s a means to an end!
Some kids just need to be loud. They can’t even help it. Their volume control is directly proportionate to their emotions. When they are super happy and excited, they are LOUD! When they are really tired or cranky, the whole world must know about it! The noise is often accompanied by movement. This is again in proportion to their emotions. Excited means running from place to place, happiness can be running in circles, tiredness often resembles a mix of martial arts and break dancing, so stand back! All of these movements are, of course, accompanied by noise in varying pitches with the volume set to high. So who is the Noisemaker online if not the person who simply cannot make their point in lower case? Their point might meander here and there, because, like the Squealer, they must stop to respond to imagined transgressions or, like the Dismisser, they must occasionally apologise when something stands in the way of their dedicated agenda. However, they are soon back on track and while they are often just EXCITED they are sometimes also ANGRY and will definitely want to TELL YOU EXACTLY WHY THAT IS, loudly and accompanied by interesting interpretive dance moves.
It remains to be seen as to whether or not the little ones grow into their current corresponding online personas but at this point, I’m just so glad neither of us has a Troll!
Who would your child be?
#FYBF @ With Some Grace
#WWU @ Melting Moments
#Weekend Rewind @ Maxabella Loves