Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
By way of this letter, I am extending an invitation to you to attend a dinner party at my home. I am an excellent cook. Past dinner guests say I should get my own Food Network show. I 'm thinking duck in ancho-cherry-chili sauce. Sound good? How about ginger crème brulee? Sinful but delicious. Right?
It won't be formal. Feel free to wear your hoodie. My other guests will most likely wear theirs.
Let me tell you a little bit about the other invitees. I'm inviting Rachel, who attends the support group I facilitate for kids who are bullied. Rachel was told to drink bleach on Facebook. Hundreds of kids seconded the suggestion. She is dropping out of seventh grade because she is too anxious to attend school. She'll be completing her education online.
I'm also inviting Sam. Someone stole Sam's Facebook password and sent horrific hate-filled messages to his friends, parents, and teachers. Sam discovered the crime when suddenly, no one in his world would speak to him.
I think I'll seat Melinda to your right. Her bully posted that she would like to see Melinda dead. When Melinda's parents called the police, the bully's response was, "I didn't say I was going to kill her, I simply said I wanted her dead. That's not a crime." She was right.
I hope Danielle will be out of the hospital in time for the event. She's recovering from the day she ingested 54 antihistamines after being taunted with every derogatory weigh-related insult you can think of by almost everyone in her seventh grade class. Danielle's parents locked up the medicine cabinet, so instead of taking pills, she cuts herself every day.
I wanted to invite Nicole and Sam and Danny and Linda and Max, but I just don't have room at my table.
As for the kids' parents, I was going to invite them but thought better of it. They would be real downers because every one of them is anxious and depressed and helpless. They most likely wouldn't be very kind to you and we can't have that happen at a dinner party, can we?
I know what you're thinking. This party is a set-up. You're going to be on the hot seat. Don't worry one little bit about that. I made strict rules that you are not to be bullied, and I plan to enforce them. Everyone must act respectfully toward you or they will be asked to leave. It's my party. I get to make the rules. I can deny access to anyone who treats you rudely and I will.
You're thinking that my guests have freedom of speech and therefore I can't prevent them from calling you names if they want. Well, that's not exactly true. It's my house. They are not welcome if they insult you. It's kind of like school. They have freedom of speech at school, yet teachers and administrators will discipline them if they abuse that freedom by tormenting other kids. Schools get to make policies about bullying. Don't you?
I'm way ahead of you on your next thought. You're thinking, like so many others, "Why don't these kids just avoid Facebook. It's so easy to ignore." How did you like The Social Network, Mr. Zuckerberg? According to The Wall Street Journal, not very much:
Facebook Inc. executives have sought to discredit a new film's unflattering portrayal of Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, even as they worked behind the scenes to influence the movie. Those efforts range from attempting to massage the script, according to one of the film's producers, to promoting an alternative corporate history.
I suspect you knew the portrayal wasn't going to be flattering. Why didn't you simply avoid the movie? Not so easy to avoid what people are saying about you, is it?
I really hope you can make my party, but if you can't, I'll invite you again next year. Or the year after that or the year after that. My guests will still be sufficiently traumatized to want to talk to you next year. Actually, if the research is correct, I could invite them 20 or 30 years from now and their wounds will still be festering. They are likely to remember the torture for the rest of their lives. I still bear the scars of the bullying I endured in seventh grade and I'm 58. And I wasn't bullied in front of everyone I ever met. My bullying wasn't public and it wasn't permanent. I worry we are creating an entire generation of PTSD patients.
Please RSVP ASAP. I'd like to give my guests the heads up if you're coming so they can iron their hoodies. You'll recognize my house.
I'll have balloons on the mailbox that read, "DO SOMETHING!"