If you're a parent with an active Facebook account, or really anyone who uses FB, there’s a good chance you’ve been sent the following message:
"ATTENTION!!!!!!!!! Do not join the group currently on Facebook with the title "Becoming a Father or Mother was the greatest gift of my life." It is a group of Pedophiles trying to access your photos. This was on Fox News at 5. Please copy and post!!! Let's keep our children safe.”
I’m pretty stingy with my group joining (and when I do, it’s usually something cantankerous like "I Hate Cilantro"), so the first time I received this message I ignored it. However, when I got the post from a third friend, I thought it was worth checking out. If this group really preys on the cute photos of my friends’ kids, I shouldn’t stand around and let it continue.
So, I did what I’d previously assumed everyone does before stamping their name on a cause -- I went to Snopes.com to ensure the threat was legit (and that I wouldn’t look like an idiot for jumping on the bandwagon).
I was both relieved and surprised to find it was a hoax. According to Snopes, the hoax began before there was even a Facebook page of that name in existence. Pranksters are so thrilled with its success that they’ve continued to keep it going by adding things like “This was on Fox News at 5…” And now, eight months later, the joke is still alive and well.
So why did so many of my friends fall for it?
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how parenting in the United States is an exercise in fear. My friends were conned because we are programmed to believe the worst. As a mom, the message I get is to be on the constant defensive. Danger is everywhere, from the park (squirrels, sharp twigs, rusty playground equipment) to the grocery store (god forbid they eat something non-organic) to any and every stranger (pedophiles are everywhere!). My sister’s young son is now utterly petrified of stepping into sunlight without a heavy layer of sunscreen.
Today, we congratulate ourselves on being so much more advanced than our parents when it comes to child-rearing. For starters, I’m hard pressed to think of one friend who smoked or drank regularly while pregnant (and yet, the majority of these friends received a steady diet of alcohol and nicotine from their own moms while in utero). But, I wonder, are we just swapping one sickness for another? Maybe, with this constant fixation on safety (by way of fear), we are breeding a crop of intense neurotics, the likes of which have never been seen before.
Did you fall for this hoax? Do you think we've become overly worried?
Image via Facebook