Posted by: mollyrossiter | January 19, 2009

Who are your friends?

mollymug2An interesting dilemma presented itself over the weekend, and I wasn’t aware of my own naivete until the question was posed.

Consider: A man in his 30s is active in social networking on the Internet — Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Delicious, etc. He has a broad array of “friends” and “followers.”

Over the weekend this man — who I am intentionally leaving nameless — gets friend requests on his Facebook from girls who are age 13 and under.

On the surface, one’s immediate reaction is likely, “Uh-oh, that’s bad news. Say ‘no’ or there will be trouble brewing.”

But add this to the mix: the man is a pastor, and the children wanting his friendship are members of his congregation.

How does that change the way you feel? Or does it?

When this man first posed the question to an online community, my immediate reaction was, Go ahead, you’re a pastor — why worry?

Then I realized just how naive that thought was. I don’t believe this particular man has anything to hide, and the fact that he aired his troubled question in an open forum only adds to my assuredness.

But if I didn’t know him, or I didn’t know he was a pastor, and I saw this man’s picture on my 11-year-old niece’s Facebook page, would I worry? You bet — at least enough to contact the parents and see what was up.

Another pastor in the same forum offered this advice: approve their friendship request, but let their parents know what’s happening.

Good call.

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Responses

  1. Really enjoyed this post. Glad you’re starting this blog. I’ll follow you!

  2. Very interesting point Molly. I started blog this weekend too. Best of luck in this venture.

  3. I am thrilled you are doing this blog – and love the concept – there are endless possibilities! This is where I love your writing the most. Will look forward to each and every article. The name is perfect and really tells the story.

  4. Actually, the pastor also might consider reporting them to Facebook, whose guidelines say one must be 13 or older to be a member. Tattling is a buzz kill, perhaps, but so are children playing in venues not intended for them.

  5. The pastor is an adult. For the protection of all involved, any adult leader of children should know they are not to be alone with a minor, whether it be in real life or electronic.


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