What's a Facebook Play? The Cyberbully Cure

Jeanne Sager
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Facebook playIf you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That seems to be the idea behind a "Facebook play" launching today at a high school in White Plains, New York. The kids are taking on cyberbullying right in the heart of social media.

Never heard of a Facebook play? Me neither. I'm of the old-fashioned, kids all stand on a stage in costumes their moms made in front of props the art classes built (that may or may not fall down in Act Two on top of the "princess"). But beginning today at 4 p.m. and running through Thursday, April 28, the kids at White Plains High School will be using status updates, posts, and videos on Facebook to put on the play Much Ado About Nothing, a Shakespearean comedy about a girl whose life is nearly ruined by a nasty rumor. How cool is that? Shakespeare for 2011!

The play is co-sponsored by Weekly Reader (remember those little "magazines" you got in grade school? Yeah, they're still around!) and the Ophelia Project, a non-profit that works to create "safe social climates" for kids. And its apropos to address cyberbullying, which is only getting more dangerous as Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk increase their sphere of influence. Today Facebook tops the likes of mega search engine Google in terms of user engagement. There's no question that social media as a whole has changed lives. It's saved lives.

But it's also turned kids' psyches upside down and inside out. The Cyberbullying Research Center estimates as much as 40 percent of kids online have been bullied, to some insane extremes. Look at Justine Williams, a teen battling cancer whose best friend filled her text inbox with messages like "I'm going to rape you" and "I'm going to kill your animals." She was one of the lucky ones -- the girl harassing was found and punished, and Williams is physically OK. Worse are the growing number of cyberbullying victims driven to suicide by the relentless abuse.

By turning to Facebook with the play, the kids are driving home just how powerful the social medium can be in kids' lives, but they're doing so by being proactive. Want to get in on the action? Hit up the Facebook page or the Tumblr devoted to the play. If nothing else, you can feel a little less guilty wasting away the hours on Facebook this afternoon!

Have you ever heard of a Facebook play? Is this a good way to take on cyberbullying?

 

Image via 360 Public Relations

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