While I would normally not include family crises on this blog, Facebook and MSN messenger, along with text messaging no doubt, have helped to create a situation that is of great concern to me, and so I think this might be the appropriate venue to divulge, since we have been examining the pros and cons of social networking. A little background is necessary…

I have 3 siblings in my family – a brother and sister in their 30’s, and my youngest brother who is 19, soon to be 20. The age difference is considerable, and has created at times the disadvantage of my youngest to have not two parents, but five. Despite this, or maybe as a direct result of this, he doesn’t seem to pay much attention to anyone, and pretty much goes about his business with little regard for others, especially my folks. Don’t get me wrong – he’s not a bad person…just maybe a little spoiled and lacking some maturity and responsibility.

The Situation:

My parents recently left on their very first ever warm vacation to Mexico. They have been there for just over a week and are having a lovely time. One of their direct requests when they left was that there were to be no parties at their home in their absence. You can imagine my surprise when I borrowed my little brother’s computer last week and found his MSN tag to read, “party February 8th at mom and dad’s”. (They get home the NEXT DAY!) Rightly or wrongly, I changed the tag to read “No parties until the van gets fixed”.

(SIDEBAR: He smashed their van last week. They still don’t know about it.)

Despite my not so subtle hint, he proceeded to create an event on Facebook. (I must say, I’ve used this application myself, and find it to be quite a useful tool. The best thing about it is keeping track of who is and who is not attending the function. Makes planning for food much, much easier.) In any case, in addition to the time and place, his event reads as such:

So far numbers seem to be decent if everyone who says there coming does. Just throwing this out to see if any people who may have nothing better on this friday night want to come party.. parents are out of town so i’m trying to fill up stairs and downstairs.. everyone is welcome to bring friends.. let’s just keep it clean people

See…he’s not so bad…he at least wants the house to stay clean…(as if!)

While I’d like to feign innocence and pretend that I’ve never thrown a house party in my parents’ absence, that would be a total lie. I threw several, as did my sister and brother. This is an argument the youngest has already thrown back at us – “You did it.” True. We did. BIG DIFFERENCE – we didn’t announce it to the province, hell, the world, via Facebook or MSN messenger.

At least that is what we’re telling ourselves…but I’m starting to wonder…didn’t the word spread just as quickly over the phone when that was our primary means of communication? Just how powerful are these social networking tools?

My sister heard about the party from a colleague, who had heard via her own children that kids are coming from towns 200 km away. Every high school student in Avonlea knows about it, and plans to attend. My little brother has played ball and hockey in Moose Jaw, Weyburn and Regina – not to mention all the towns he would have competed against in school sports. Add to that the fact that he has extended the invitation for people to invite whoever they want…this party could potentially be HUGE….and that is what scares us most of all. It’s not his friends that are necessarily a concern; but what about the strangers that may simply arrive uninvited?

The legal ramifications are huge; I’m certain he hasn’t considered this.

Bottom line – we (my siblings and I) don’t want this party to happen, but the youngest is conveniently avoiding all calls and text messages. So…we thought we’d fight facebook with facebook…his friends will hopefully take this post from my sister to heart:

HEADS UP … I just want to give you time to contact EVERYONE in the province and let them know that the party at mom and dad’s house is OFF! If you want a party, then wait until mom and dad are home. I realize that we have had parties at our parent’s in the past, BUT things like FACEBOOK and MSN did not exist back in the day to make it a GLOBAL invitation.

Here’s hoping Facebook is as powerful at cancelling the party as it was at creating it…