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Social Media and Growing Up Without It

What would we have done if there was Facebook when we were kids?

I often wonder what life would have been like if we had social media like Facebook back in the late 1950s, and 1960s.  It seems like in today’s world, kids get on Facebook and write all kinds of things, or download videos to You Tube with their telephones showing their teachers screaming at their class.  My own oldest of the female grandies did just that. 

What would I have done if there was social media when I was a kid in the late 1950s or 1960s? 

I felt like I was a victim of a very very strict Italian father.  He had a leash on me that was very short.  I thought in the 1960s that he was hampering my social life.  I don’t think he minded that I went out on dates pretty often, but he would have preferred that I was babysitting in the neighborhood.  I was the most popular babysitter in my tract of homes in Newark and I had people calling all the time for me to take care of their kids.  But, it was a choice for me – go out on a date or earn some money to buy clothes, jewelry, and make-up.  When I wanted to go out with my friends, my dad had tough rules that I disagreed with on a regular basis.  So, what did this good girl do?  I lied.  Not an awful lie, but I figured I would just go to confession after I had fun. 

The fun was innocent of course.  The fun was going to the Rollarena, Frenchy’s, Mission Boulevard/East 14th Street cruising, or parties at friend’s houses.  I always wanted to go to the Rollarena in Hayward because they had dances there and I loved to dance because it was loads of fun.  Frenchy’s was sort of a night club with dancing to live music, and cruising meant flirting with some cute boys in muscle cars.

When I was a little younger, Dad did not let me go to the taping of Dance Party in San Francisco when we lived there or to some concerts playing there, so as I got older, I figured there had to be a way around this tyrant of a father. 

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my dad.  He was a great father.  I was the first of five kids and the only girl and he was still practicing fatherhood with me.  Not that I was a challenge.  Knowing me today that is hard to believe.  But, when I was a kid, I swear I wore a halo on my head.  Catholic school did one number on me and Dad did another and I was a good girl – albeit a little mischievous.  Fortunately, this did not hurt my crazy personality one bit when I finally came out of my shell.  Must be the mixture of Croatian blood from my mom’s side because Croatians love to have fun and party with the best of them. And Italians use any excuse in the world to have a party and our family always had them. Italian Catholics had lots of excuses to celebrate.

So, I lied.  Instead of telling my dad that we were cruising the strip on Mission Boulevard in Hayward or going to the Rollarena or Frenchy’s, or seeing some boys that probably would not pass Dad’s “test”, I did some research on some of the movies playing locally.  Knowing Dad probably would not be going to those movies, I found out the synopsis of the movies from the pink section of Sunday’s newspaper in case Dad asked questions about the plot or who starred in the movies.  This was a great resource that helped my social life.  And, there were times I did go to the movies so it all came in handy.

But, what would I have done with Facebook?  I can just imagine what I would write, knowing Dad most likely would not have a Facebook account and neither would his friends.  I think I would write the things I thought either to myself or out loud.  Things like:

  • “I hate my dad, I can hardly wait to move out when I am older.” 
  • “I feel like I have a chastity belt on my body.”
  • “I won’t be like this to my kids when I have some.”
  • “Dad slapped me in the face because…”
  • “Why can’t I express myself?  Dad won’t let me get a word in edgewise.”
  • “I wish someone would adopt me.  Cousins Norma and Bummy please take me home with you.”
  • “I am tired of taking care of my brothers, it is ruining my life.”
  • “My dad is so mean that I want to run away somewhere.”
  • “I am getting married to the first one that asks me so I can get the hell out of here.”
  • “Dad hit me last night and left welts on my arms.”

I feel so terrible now thinking of the awful thoughts I had back then.

Then I think about when my kids were younger.  I was shocked when I went into my daughter’s bedroom to find a paperback book about child abuse.  I was mortified.  What the heck did this kid know about child abuse? 

How could this be?  I was not as strict as my father. But I was raised with the idea of “spare the rod and spoil the child” and that is how I raised my two kids.  My dad’s generation felt that kids should be “seen and not heard” and I made up my mind that my kids would be heard as well as seen.  Things change from generation to generation. 

My kids were punished for doing something wrong.  They got slapped and they got their mouths washed out with soap when they swore.  My son still tells the tale about when he said a bad word as a kid and how he had to endure Tabasco drops on his tongue as punishment.  I think he scared his youngest daughter telling her this story which made her afraid to stay with me during some of the summer vacation even though her older sister loves to come stay with Nanny and Poppy.  What would they have written on Facebook? 

Now as a grandmother to six ranging in age from 20 to 8 years old, I see my kids parenting their young ones.  I am sure those grandies are feeling some of the same feelings I had with thinking their parents were strict.  Now, my kids are monitoring Facebook of their kids.  The grandies are so honest with their names, hobbies, etc., that they are prime for the actual child molesters out there preying on the young kids.  When I read something on their Facebook site, I call my son and ask him if he read what was written.  Red flags go up immediately.

My Space was another social media that has been replaced by Facebook, but the things kids would write on there would make adults blush.  There are so many social media out there that change often enough with something better and it makes one wonder what the next one will be.

Yes, it is a different world out there and I am glad I did not have Facebook back then to embarrass my father with all the thoughts I had in my head when I was angry with him.  And, if my kids wrote on Facebook when they were young, I think I would have taken all privileges of computer use away until they turned 21.

The down side of Facebook and other social media is that it seems to take over your life when you have an account.  And if you also have e-mail coming in by the dozens every 15 minutes and you want to check daily on MartinezPatch.com, you have little time left for the really important personal things in your life.  Sometimes I feel like I have a cord attaching my body to my computer.  With personal, business, politics, and organizational e-mails, I admit, I am a slave to my computer. 

I have to unload all the spam I get at least ten times a day removing emails trying to sell me something to make my penis larger, restore my hair, target fat cells, buy Viagra, buy Canadian pharmaceuticals, etc. and I wonder how I got on those lists.  God knows, I never had a penis nor ever plan to have one, and with a name like “Anne” you would think it is obvious that I am a woman.  But wait, there was a song by Johnny Cash, called “A Boy Named Sue” so that dog won’t fly, will it?

Things get posted every minute of every day by your friends on Facebook and if you don’t sign on, you may miss something really important.  Or then again, maybe not.

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MountainDude August 09, 2012 at 02:37 AM
The eluded too "Tabasco treatment" was only when we were very young, and occurred no later than 5 years old. This made way for slapping, or hitting with objects such as slippers, wire hangers, and jump ropes, and I can assure you we deserved every stroke of it! We were latchkey kids living in an isolated mountain community. We were rotten little bastards. But I digress from the subject: Social Media- We didn't even have TV for the most part, which allowed us to explore the outdoors and be self reliant. We were doing real stuff and learning that Mommy and Daddy were not anywhere even close to being able to help us. No phones, no safety net. We went out fishing, hunting, and climbing, sometimes great distances away without the knowledge of where we were. Drifting from home in Desolation Wilderness with a Bow, or a pellet gun, into what was "My Forest". You came home when the skeeters got thick. There were no video games, no computers, and VCR's were $700. The out of doors and the ability for me to be out in it is an experience robbed of today's youth. We were far more rugged. It was another chapter in my charmed life. My parents parented as much as they could, but never over-parented.
Anne Mobley August 09, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Oh my...I envision another Mommie Dearest book in the works!!! Our kids turned out great, not rotten little bastards, so we must have done something right. I was the disciplinarian in the family and the "fun" parent because the ex was older -- much older but not wiser. My preference was to be a stay-at-home mom but circumstances were that I had to work to support the family. My kids learned the value of a dollar because nothng came easy. I am proud of both of my kids and I love them more than life itself.

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