I have a son-in-law who feels a need to confide in Facebook as if this is a close personal friend. What would motivate a person to spill their guts on social media?
Society often swings from one extreme to another. I think that most of us laugh when we read memoirs from earlier centuries that speak of close family members not acknowledging a pregnancy until the baby arrived, but surely we have gone overboard in our ‘spill all the beans all the time,’ culture.
However, for many of the younger generation, that is all they know. They grew up with TV talk shows that featured topics that should scandalize decent people and then Facebook and other social media in effect handed them their own platform. They have never heard a message of reticence when it comes to areas that were always considered sacred and private.
In other words, we think your son-in-law typifies many of his generation. Not surprisingly, many of these people are having a rude awakening when potential employers access their social media accounts. It’s not hard to imagine that down the road, they will rue their openness for other reasons. Unfortunately, there is probably little you can do. Hopefully, your daughter and son-in-law will realize the impropriety and potential danger before great harm is done.
It is not clear from your letter but we wonder whether your son-in-law’s revelatory behavior is upsetting your daughter and that, perhaps, is what is hurting you. If this is the case, then their marriage is really the issue and he may be spilling his guts to get at his wife. If, on the other hand, your daughter is complicit in sharing their lives with a few thousand of their best ‘friends’ then there is truly nothing to do. Either way, unless you are asked for help or advice, you can’t really be involved.
Your words can serve as a caution to those raising children today that having discussions of the value of privacy is both important and necessary. Take nothing for granted in today’s world.
Wishing you joy from your children,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin