Clubbing penguins

A Slate writer tries out the regulated joys of Club Penguin, a social networking site for tweens, and finds himself dating an alleged 12-year-old girl. That is, his blue penguin went virtual sledding with a pink penguin.

This summer, when Disney bought Club Penguin for $700 million, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the time our kids spend online. In my few weeks there, Club Penguin surprised me in how well it approximated a middle-school playground, with the daredevils, the flirts, the boys obsessed with sports and games, the girls in a circle. (A sign-off that I thought I would never see online: “gtg, cheerleading.”) My guess is that Club Penguin complements these kids’ real lives, and it’s slightly hypocritical to tell them to turn off the computer and go play kick the can.

I’m so old I’ve actually played kick the can — about 45 years ago. I recently joined Facebook in the hopes of learning what social networking is all about. So far, I remain clueless.

About Joanne


  1. I had to laugh at your Facebook comment. I didn’t realize I was old until my children started teaching me about MySpace. I get it but not really. I will just keep bluffing them so I least I can maintain some (however small) amount of coolness with the children. While I must say I love all the new social networking apps I am a bit intimidated by all of them. Guess I just come from the school where the social network was the parking lot in front of the grocery store. Have a great day!

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The fun was not in kicking the can, it was in hiding.

  3. Did people just throw cans out on the street, and kids kick them? I’ve heard this expression for years, but CANnot understand it. Was littering so much worse in days gone by?

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    We put a can in the middle of the street, then the designated it guy counted to 100 with his eyes covered, while the rest of us found hiding places. The it person would then seek us out, and as soon as he saw someone he would run back, jump over the can and yell “Over the can for Gene and Bev.” or whomever. We would come put of hiding whi;e the rest were caught, but occasionally someone would sneak up and kick the can and the it guy had to bring it back and count again while we hid again and it all started over. As I said, the fun was in the hiding, not the kicking. I understand there are regional variations to the game. Understand, we didn’t have wii or Xbox back then. Just girls.

  5. My favorite version of the game was Spotlight, played with a flashlight at night. A front porch, with the light on, was prison, and you had to free people by touching the porch without being caught. You were captured by being hit by the light and named at (essentially) the same time — a standard trick was for people that looked alike to trade shirts. It was best to get a big 6-volt flashlight, since D-cells in those days were pre-alkaline and went dead quickly.

  6. I recently was asked to change an assignment for my Information Systems college level class because I asked the students to post a blog entry about IS or sign-up for a social network site. They had to make one entry to show they know how and they had to send me a link to show that they had made the blog entry or joined the site. It seems that someone in adminstration thought that the Internet is where all the pornography is. The person was afraid that if the student went online and saw some pornography or posted some pornograpy then I, and the university, would be at risk of being sued for sexual harassment.