U-tube, u-rule

In a world drowning in useless celebrity gossip, it’s always nice to find something useful in all that garbage to apply to everyday life. Take this little nugget:

“Can you imagine being 22 and having your parents know everything about you?” says Lauren Conrad of the TV show “The Hills.” “Literally, my mom can go on the Internet and find out where I went last night, who I was with. I mean, there are no secrets!”

Indeed. Earlier this summer, Girl from the West went away for a month as part of a musical ensemble. While she was gone I received a few e-mails that detailed some things about the host families with whom she was staying, a few random pictures of historic buildings, and kids in uniforms posed all sweet and proper in front of water fountains.
But I was dying to know: What really happened?
Once she returned, we received little in the way of trip summaries, observations or gossip.
We took advantage of jet lag to get her to show us her digital pictures (pre-edit, like I said “jet lag”). But once she was coherent, the lips were zipped and the files were deleted.
The most intriguing piece of news we gathered was that in all of Western Europe, there is not one jar of peanut butter.
Well that certainly justified the $5K price tag for her adventure.

I compared notes with other parents; they all said the same thing.

Recognizing my frustration, one Internet-savvy parent suggested I check Youtube for further details.
Lo and behold, after typing in the necessary search terms, I was suddenly staring at buried treasure. There were numerous concert clips, jam sessions and a few odd things I’m not sure what to make of. Nothing risque or awful, to be sure. But still …
This got me thinking. Youtube has changed everything. The Internet in general has changed everything, thanks to Al Gore, we all know this.
All this sharing of the good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s teens may make them more accessible to one another, ┬ábut it also leaves a pretty nice electronic paper trail for moms and dads who want to know: what’s my little girl/boy up to when he/she is out of the house?

So, moms and dads, check it out. Navigate your way around Youtube for some field research on your kids. It helps to know some of their nicknames, slang and code words for things, since much of it will not be listed under actual names and places. But then again, it never hurts to try.

For once, I’m glad I’m not any younger.

What part of gay don't you understand?

Recent conversation with person of older generation regarding behavior patterns of the younger generation, as moderated by a middle-aged zombie:

Me: Girl from the West has a gay friend. I think that’s great that kids today can be out and open.
Older: Gay friend? She has a gay girlfriend??? (Subtext: Are you telling me your child is GAY????!!!!)
Me: No. I said: She has a gay friend. It’s a guy.
Older: Ohhh, they’re dating. Do you allow her to date?
Me: No. They are friends. He is gay. That means he is not interested in girls.
Older: Then why are they friends?

Trying a new tack, I steer the conversation toward my middle school days. I say that back then kids were beaten to a bloody pulp in the alley if they were even suspected of being gay. It was one of the ultimate social taboos, next to being poor. I told of a high school classmate who committed suicide when he came out to family and friends and was subsequently rejected. It broke my heart.

I told her I live in a predominantly gay community, have many gay friends and neighbors, although I do not refer to them as that or introduce them as such. I’m merely using the label to make a point. I raise my children to judge people by their actions, not their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

I’m met with a long silence.

Older: Oh, so that’s why you don’t send her to school here.

Hear that noise? That’s me bashing my skull against a brick wall.