A couple of days ago my teenager decided to make a new Facebook page. This isn't anything new for him; he seems to come up with some new reason to create a page every other week or so. Our dog has a page, and so does one of his bouncy balls. But this time it was a page about vaccinations and school attendance. You see, our state is the only one that requires mandatory vaccinations for public/private school attendance. All other states offer an opt-out option. Not ours. This was not an issue for our family for many years because I had always homeschooled. However, my son had planned on beginning high school at our local public school last year, so he had some catching up to do on his shots.
I won't get into our whole vaccination experience here, but we have very strong opinions as a family on their safety and usefulness, going back to when my first child was a baby. This became personal for this particular son when he had a severe reaction to one of the vaccines he took last May. It required hospitalization, numerous specialist consultations, and still no resolution. We have finally found a specialist in Atlanta (7 hours away) that is working with him to get the toxic materials from the vaccine out of his body (mainly copper and mercury), but it is a long, slow process. He continues to exhibit embarrassing physical complications (jerks, twitching, stuttering, memory issues) and the psychological ramifications that go along with it. He was unable to go to that school after all, because of the daily maintenance, and we continue to homeschool. Needless to say, he has a strong personal interest in this issue, and thus the Facebook page.
One thing that has really shocked him is the strong negative reaction people have had to his page. Part of the problem is that Facebook now allows a person to make a page and just add people to it without their consent. And believe me, he took full advantage of this, adding 150 people (mostly adults) to the page. I tried to gently explain that hardly anyone will be sympathetic to his passion (or page), because they just haven't been personally affected by the issue. They seem to think he is against vaccinations at all, and people feel strongly about that, thinking that it is stupid. My son just wants to be able to go to school without having to get more shots, especially when he knows he could do so anywhere else in the country.
This has led to some interesting discussions about civil liberties, apathy, civic responsibility, and life missions. Not too bad for a homeschooling day. I doubt he would ever have learned lessons like this at public school anyway.