One of my tasks in looking after the Crossover web presence is to keep an eye on the Crossover Bebo page. We get a regular flow of people signing up as friends and I do have a quick look at their Bebo site. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy but what I see, I find quite depressing. The language and innuendo to be found on young teenagers’ pages is pretty shocking. With Bebo it’s fairly easy to hide behind the ‘friends only’ restriction, but that, to my mind, encourages this duality in public and ‘private’ personas. One of the sites I looked at belongs to someone I know and I have to ask myself, which is the ‘real’ them? Is it the foul-mouthed, world-hating ’emo’ on Bebo or is the approachable but loud teenager I see from time to time? Or is the real person some complex mix of the two? Which one is the facade? Or is peer pressure so great that there is an expectation to be as ‘bad’ as each other or even to outdo one another?
I did actually toy with the idea of ‘purging’ those friends who did use offensive and crude language (and advertising the fact that I’m doing it) but who am I to judge acceptability. Crossover is a Christian festival but it certainly doesn’t lay down any kind of standards to be met before you can associate with it. That would be, very much, in contradiction to the gospel message. But where does one draw the line? By accepting such sites as friends, is one condoning them? This, to me, is one of the issues of social networking sites – there is little or no control over associations that are made and the assumed ‘privacy’ allows the presentation of public and private faces which, very often, are contradictory.