I spend more time than I should reading what parents post on the many preschool TV social media sites and Facebook pages. It’s fascinating stuff. Having a four-year-old apparently makes all moms and dads experts in children’s media. They know how networks should program their shows. They know when the toys should hit the shelves at Walmart. They know which kids’ series from the 1980′s should be brought back. And they are absolutely convinced that their own toddler should have the final say on which preschool shows should get renewed and which ones should get the axe. Parents in cyberspace are brilliant. Oh, and they are often a little nuts. Case in point, here’s a recent comment from the page of one of the big networks:
“…all these racial history months and you don’t have one for ‘White History Month.’ Sounds a bit racist for being a kids channel. What’s wrong with teaching children what white people have done? Are you ashamed?”
Hello? Clearly this parent didn’t get the memo that, in the US, every month since the pilgrims hit Plymouth Rock has been White History Month. Many Facebook comments are unintelligent which–given our school system–might be excusable, but what’s harder to understand is why so many are so mean-spirited. Take this snide post for example:
“For a channel that claims to provide content for preschoolers, and claims to have a team of educational experts at your disposal, please explain the theory behind changing a line up YET AGAIN and how inconsistency benefits preschoolers…I await your response, and am practicing my sarcastic laugh in preparation for the ignorance that will surely be demonstrated by the lack of one.”
Well, according to the educational experts, practice does make perfect. Parents are not just mean to us–the folks who make and broadcast kids TV–they are also quite nasty to one another. Here’s one post from a long and heated exchange between two parents with time on their hands.
“…your post is ripe with logical fallacies and I won’t begin to attempt to delve into it all. Let me just say that just because you had beer at 10 and your brother watched R movies at 6 doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do.”
Ouch. That musta hurt. I was corresponding with my dear friend, Tim Van Hook, on the subject of online posts. Tim is a writer, an artist, and one of the most articulate guys I know and here’s what he had to say on the matter:
“…comments on the internet are about the worst venue for human expression, because all the social mechanisms that keep behavior bounded by what works in groups are disabled: reputation, legacy, others’ reactions in facial expression and body language as well as dialogue, desire to please or win over or maintain alliances, it’s all gone, and what’s left is people screaming into the void.”
Yep, that pretty much sums it up. The Internet has given every one of us a digital soapbox from which to vent. (Much to Kidscreen’s dismay, my own soapbox is located on their website.) In the old days, there were filters to catch the flotsam but now the flotsam has the edge. Of course there are many examples of well-drafted Facebook posts from intelligent and mature readers. Take this post from one grandfather who went to bat for my own beloved Small Potatoes when someone dared to criticize them:
“Hey, ding dong time! Calling all politically correct brainwashed Comedy Central yahoo aol ding mtv ding dongs!!! Alert!!! Alert!!! Get a freaking life! I am 70 years old and I absolutely LOVE Small Potatos (that’s the way we spelled it in 1955 and if you don’t like it — screw you tatoo!) Small Potatoes, Small Potatoes, Small Potatoes! We love Small Potatoes!”
Thanks, gramps. I couldn’t have said it better myself.