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Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

On Facebook, any opinion can become a controversy

Have you checked your Facebook account recently? If it is anything like mine, you are witnessing friends and relatives across the county exhibit extreme differences of opinion on questions like: What defines marriage? What makes a good American? What is a “real” Christian? What keeps a family safe? Should you post spoiler results from the Olympics? It is shocking to me how people I have known all my life can be so diametrically opposed. It is like we are all looking at the same issues through different prisms.

As for my own opinion on these matters, I usually keep those thoughts private on Facebook because I do not wish to offend half the people I know. But then I struggle with worrying if staying mum is offensive to the very principles I value. You can go ahead and call me a coward for staying quiet, because it is no worse than I have called myself.

When it comes to writing an opinion column about parenting, it is pretty hard to say anything without upsetting someone (usually unintentionally on my part). But even though I weigh every word I choose carefully, they are still words that offer an opinion, and therein lies the trouble.

Even having an opinion about Facebook and children can be controversial. Should you post pictures of your kids on Facebook? Should other people post pictures of your kids on Facebook? How soon is too soon for Facebook? Should you claim an account in your infant's name right now?

As a teacher, one thing I love about Facebook is the opportunity to watch my former students grow up. I put my heart and soul into those kids and just because they left my care doesn't mean I stopped loving them. I also think having your ninth-grader “friend” her kindergarten teacher is a pretty brilliant idea. I can hear their wise mothers now cautioning, “Don't put anything on Facebook that you don't want Mrs. Bardsley to see!”

Another tip I've heard about monitoring kids on Facebook is to create an account for your family cat. Mom or Dad doesn't have to be your Facebook friend, but Mr. Fluffy-Face does. I thought this idea was worth exploring. Unfortunately, Facebook recognized Mr. Fluffy-Face as a fictional character of my imagination and would not let him set up an account.

That's too bad, because unlike me, Mr. Fluffy-Face doesn't sit on his paws afraid of offending anyone. In fact, he already had his first post written:

“I was thinking about President Kennedy recently, whom some people didn't vote for because he was Catholic. Kennedy's marriage was shared with multiple women and he was killed by a man enabled by the 2nd Amendment. But I like to remember President Kennedy as the champion of Civil Rights who appointed Abraham Bolden, the first African American Secret Service agent. He also brought pets of all types to the White House, including Tom Kitten the cat.”

Meow.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com.


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