February Letters

In reading Kevin Alexander’s article about Facebook and other social networking websites [“Fast Times at Make-Believe High,” January], I found it amazing just how much teens’ social lives have changed in less than a decade—and quite frankly, it has me concerned. At what point will the reliance on technology impede their real-world inter-actions? Are they underprepared to succeed in today’s economy because they prefer to communicate through the Internet and text messages? Or is this the way of the future, that our culture and society will soon become faceless?

Alexander does an excellent job of raising these questions, and I commend him for illustrating just how important these social networking sites are to today’s youth.

Ramsey Ramadan
Arlington, VA

I’m only eight years out of high school, and I already feel like a parent who can’t relate. Who are these kids? Are they really as screwed up as they sound—or do they have it figured out in ways we never did? Either way, Kevin Alexander’s portrayal of this new Facebook culture was fascinating.

Matthew Herman
New York, NY

Given what I know to be our schools’ constant struggle with social networking sites, I read with interest Kevin Alexander’s article about Facebook. His take on the phenomenon was intriguing, but he missed a few key points.

First, he greatly underestimated the harmful impact of cybersocializing and cyberbullying on kids today. The Internet may be the greatest academic and informational tool ever invented, but adults are just beginning to understand that we must teach children how to use—and not abuse—online relationships and information. Most kids get absolutely no guidance from adults about online life, either in school or at home.

Second, there’s a common misconception that “private” online profiles are truly private. On many sites, private profiles still display a default picture and identifying information to anyone, and there even are ways for others to bypass security to view the full “hidden” profile. Kids must be taught this bottom line: The Internet is not private; assume that anything and everything you put up will be viewed.

When it comes to the Internet for today’s teens, we’ve not only skipped the driver’s ed, we’ve handed them the keys to the car. Some children are getting killed and many others hurt as a result. My hope is that future generations will get the education and the guidance they need.

Elizabeth K. Englander, Ph.D.
Director, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center
Bridgewater State College

Having spent my college years in Boston in the ’60s, I have stayed at many of the city’s hotels during return visits—the Parker House, the Copley Plaza—but most often it was the Ritz [“Last Call at the Ritz,” January]. During my stays there, I spotted a late-night TV host, a great opera diva, and two very funny married comedians (there’s no name-dropping at the Ritz). Over the years, the hotel’s one change that I lamented was the switch to self-service elevators: I missed the white-gloved gentlemen operators, who were always pleasant and welcoming.

I spotted the cover blurb about the Ritz on a newsstand during a Mass. Pike stop, bought the magazine, and sat in the car reading the story. What a shock. Are Faneuil Hall and Fenway Park for sale, too?

Jonathan Rickard
Deep River, CT

Many thanks for Rebecca Dorr’s thoughtful story on the sale of the Ritz, where I have played harp for the afternoon tea since 2003. The article really captured what we are all feeling about the end of an era. The line “that longing, so keenly felt in Boston, for the civility of another era” described it perfectly. And the final thought in the piece, about the hotel being the people who work in it, was very appropriate. I’m happy to say that I’ve been asked to stay on as a harpist for tea at the Taj.

Nancy Hurrell

I coined “VBAC,” for vaginal birth after cesarean, in the 1970s; wrote the first book on it; and have spent the past 35 years researching, lecturing, and writing on the subject [“The Mommy Uprising,” December]. I have worked with thousands of women who have had peaceful and successful VBACs, often in the comfort of their own homes. VBACs are safe for almost all women; however, left to their own devices, obstetricians are not going to reduce the rate of surgical deliveries—there’s little incentive to do so, and little understanding for the importance of natural birth to both mother and baby.

While a cesarean section can be a life-giving operation in specific and rare circumstances, it is also a preventable and frequently unnecessary—though socially acceptable—major abdominal surgery that should be avoided for numerous reasons. One only has to look at the statistics and the millions of “walking wounded” to know a cesarean is not safer than a natural, normal birth. In certain respects it is also a cultural form of violence against women, though this is rarely addressed or understood. The sad fact is most women are fast asleep when it comes to birth; fortunately, as Tina Cassidy’s article points out, some are finally waking up.

Nancy Wainer
Certified professional midwife

Your article about Newbury Street salesclerks [“Secrets, Lies, and Register Tape,” November] states that two Marc Jacobs employees caught an armed man who had robbed their Newbury Street store. In fact it was Mark Gillis, a Metropolitan Protective Service armed security guard who was patrolling Newbury Street.

I feel that credit should go where credit is due for a change. The men and women of the security industry work hard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to protect this country. Short-changing their good deeds is a real shame.

John Glover
CEO, Metropolitan Protective Service