This is a repost from my Facebook wall post on February 11th. If you’d like to see the comments made on Facebook, click here.
Media Response to Anita Li, from the Toronto Star
Since you took the time to email us with your requests like we asked, I’ll take the time to give you an honest follow-up response. You’ll have to forgive me for doing so publicly though; again I want to be sure my words are portrayed the way I actually say them, not cut together to make entirely different points.
Your questions were:
Q: Why did you decide to reprimand your daughter over a public medium like YouTube?
A: Well, I actually just had to load the video file itself on YouTube because it’s a better upload process than Facebook, but the intended audience was her Facebook friends and the parents of those friends who saw her post and would naturally assume we let our children get away with something like that. So, to answer “Why did you reprimand her over a public medium like Facebook” my answer is this: Because that’s how I was raised. If I did something embarrassing to my parents in public (such as a grocery store) I got my tail tore up right there in front of God and everyone, right there in the store. I put the reprisal in exactly the same medium she did, in the exact same manner. Her post went out to about 452 people. Mine went out to about 550 people… originally. I had no idea it would become what it did.
Q: How effective do you think your punishment was (i.e. shooting her laptop and reading her letter online)?
A: I think it was very effective on one front. She apparently didn’t remember being talked to about previous incidents, nor did she seem to remember the effects of having it taken away, nor did the eventual long-term grounding seem to get through to her. I think she thought “Well, I’ll just wait it out and I’ll get it back eventually.” Her behavior corrected for a short time, and then it went back to what it was before and worse. This time, she won’t ever forget and it’ll be a long time before she has an opportunity to post on Facebook again. I feel pretty certain that every day from then to now, whenever one of her friends mentions Facebook, she’ll remember it and wish she hadn’t done what she did.
The second lesson I want her to learn is the value of a dollar. We don’t give her everything she asks for, but you can all imagine what it’s like being the only grandchild and the first child. Presents and money come from all sides when you’re young. Most of the things she has that are “cool” were bought or gifted that way. She’s always asked for very few things, but they’re always high-dollar things (iPod, laptop, smartphone, etc). Eventually she gets given enough money to get them. That’s not learning the value of a dollar. Its knowing how to save money, which I greatly applaud in her, but it’s not enough. She wants a digital SLR camera. She wants a 22 rifle like mine. She wants a car. She wants a smart phone with a data package and unlimited texting. (I have to hear about that one every week!)
She thinks all these things are supposed to be given to her because she’s got parents. It’s not going to happen, at least not in our house. She can get a job and work for money just like everyone else. Then she can spend it on anything she wants (within reason). If she wants to work for two months to save enough to purchase a $1000 SLR camera with an $800 lens, then I can guarantee she’ll NEVER leave it outside at night. She’ll be careful when she puts it away and carries it around. She’ll value it much more because she worked so hard to get it. Instead, with the current way things have been given to her, she’s on about her fourth phone and just expects another one when she breaks the one she has. She’s not sorry about breaking it, or losing it, she’s sorry only because she can’t text her friends. I firmly believe she’ll be a LOT more careful when she has to buy her own $299.00 Motorola Razr smartphone.
Until then, she can do chores, and lots and lots of them, so the people who ARE feeding her, clothing her, paying for all her school trips, paying for her musical instruments, can have some time to relax after they finish working to support her and the rest of the family. She can either work to make money on her own, or she will do chores to contribute around the house. She’s known all along that all she has to do is get a job and a lot of these chores will go away. But if you’re too lazy to work even to get things you want for yourself, I’m certainly not going to let you sit idly on your rear-end with your face glued to both the TV and Facebook for 5 to 6 hours per night. Those days are over.
Q: How did your daughter respond to the video and to what happened to her laptop?
A: She responded to the video with “I can’t believe you shot my computer!” That was the first thing she said when she found out about it. Then we sat and we talked for quite a long while on the back patio about the things she did, the things I did in response, etc.
Later after she’d had time to process it and I’d had time to process her thoughts on the matters we discussed, we were back to a semi-truce… you know that uncomfortable moment when you’re in the kitchen with your child after an argument and you’re both waiting to see which one’s going to cave in and resume normal conversation first? Yeah, that moment. I told her about the video response and about it going viral and about the consequences it could have on our family for the next couple of days and asked if she wanted to see some of the comments people had made. After the first few hundred comments, she was astounded with the responses.
People were telling her she was going to commit suicide, commit a gun-related crime, become a drug addict, drop out of school, get pregnant on purpose, and become a stripper because she’s too emotionally damaged now to be a productive member of society. Apparently stripper was the job-choice of most of the commenters. Her response was “Dude… it’s only a computer. I mean, yeah I’m mad but pfft.” She actually asked me to post a comment on one of the threads (and I did) asking what other job fields the victims of laptop-homicide were eligible for because she wasn’t too keen on the stripping thing.
We agreed we learned two collective lessons from this so far:
First: As her father, I’ll definitely do what I say I will, both positive and negative and she can depend on that. She no longer has any doubt about that.
Second: We have always told her what you put online can affect you forever. Years later a single Facebook/MySpace/Twitter comment can affect her eligibility for a good job and can even get her fired from a job she already has. She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings.