Springingtiger's Blog


WTF R kidz up 2?

A girl is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, “As a girl, it’s normal to start putting raunchy pictures on Facebook at 13, and you feel you have to live up to that.”

It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that this world in which I now live is neither the world into which I was born, nor that in which I grew up, but rather it is a strange alien place, I am a stranger in a strange land. I am reasonably sure that when I was young, girls did not publish raunchy pictures of themselves. Of course when I was young there was no Facebook and the nearest we came to pornography was the magazine Health and Efficiency with its photos of naturists holding beachballs or ping pong bats. So what is it with the raunchy pictures? Don’t get me wrong I appreciate raunch as much as anyone, but there is appropriate raunch and inappropriate raunch, and teenagers posting semi clad and suggestive photos on the internet is definitely inappropriate raunch.
While obviously humans are to blame, what has made this disturbing behaviour possible is, one the internet, and two digital photography, particularly smart phones. Last century nude photographs had to be developed either by the photographer or sent to a select few processors who would handle that sort of content without passing it to the police. There was a time when the polaroid camera was the height of technology for people wanting to take candid snaps in the bedroom and there was little facility for sharing the pictures. Now anyone can take a photo, edit it and upload it to the internet in seconds. In the old days if someone wanted to publish something they had to make an effort. it required thought and planning, but now the act of uploading is so quick and easy people have shared before thinking of the consequences. Even in the early days of mobile phones the greatest damage too much vodka could cause would be inappropriate SMS messages; now with a little drink and with little encouragement, teenagers are exposing themselves to exploitation, derision or worse.

Remember when we were told not to talk to strangers? Today’s young people are supplying their intimate details along with intimate pictures to all sorts of predatory creatures, not only to those who wish to take advantage of them but also to the sort of cruel monsters who find it amusing to drive young people to suicide. The papers repeatedly draw attention to teenagers who, unable to bear anymore cyber-bullying, have killed themselves. It is no longer realistic to assert that it was not the bullies intention to cause death, they are aware of the possible consequences of their actions, therefore it is reasonable to infer that they actively want to cause death secure in the knowledge that they will escape justice. In the light of recent events every case of cyber-bullying should be considered as criminal assault or attempted murder and where the victim dies it should not be manslaughter but always classed as premeditated murder and punished accordingly.

Apparently child trafficking has risen by over eighty percent facilitated by the internet. I think we must be aware of the dangers of the internet, but we should not overreact, the internet can be a force for good. The internet must remain free, therefore it’s abuse must be severely punished to keep it so. Getting young people to expose themselves online is sexual abuse and should be punished severely, as should all child abuse.
We are privileged to have access to the internet and we have a responsibility to use it responsibly. Access to the internet is not a basic human right, prisoners have recently been allowed access on the grounds that it is a right, it is not. There is a hierarchy of rights, some like food, water and shelter are fundamental and should be enjoyed by all. I would argue that freedom of speech should be a fundamental right. However one person’s rights cannot be allowed to deprive another of their fundamental rights. The right of a child to grow in safety, free from abuse and exploitation is a fundamental right and those who have denied children that right should not be provided with the facility to continue. Even if access to the internet were a right, the abuse of the internet can never be. It is unreasonable for someone who deprives others of a fundamental right to then demand secondary rights. A child abuser still has a right to be treated as a human being, to food and shelter, and medical care, they even have a right to respect as a human being, but there their rights stop. No one has a right to abuse children, and in “abuse” I include treating children as a possession or commodity. Children are our most precious resource, our hope for the future  and our most important people, if we fail them we will destroy ourselves.

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5 Comments so far
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I recently saw the movie ‘Cyberbully’ [link is to the full movie on YouTube], and it made a strong impression on me.

First of all, just like you, I realise that I am old… Having grown up before the Internet dates me in the pre-reality generation!;-)

But mostly because the social media reality kids grow up in today is metaphorically like the Australian bush on a hot summer days with ‘catastrophic Fire Danger’ rating… It takes only a small spark to set their whole world ablaze!

Bullying is nothing new, of course… but cyber bullying’s epidemic properties are scary! And these are young people who are not socially mature with adults’ ability to predict social consequences (well, theoretically).

However, even risking abuse and cyberbullying, I don’t think I would chose to grow up without the Internet if I had the choice. The school environment the teenagers in ‘Cyberbully’ is horrible, and it is like an super-village due to the offline-online connectedness, like a social meta-layer that keeps the social scene of the school yard running 24/7…

But the Internet also gives opportunities to reach alternative social groups beyond the local ‘village’. When I was a teenager I had few opportunities to find friends outside my local school environment, so at a time where my social status deteriorated and I lost my friends, not interacting was pretty much the only option. Social isolation in those days did not only mean loneliness but also lack of access to information about opportunities and about everything basically. You had to be told things to know things, and you had to be socially interactive and liked to be told things. Information you could read were mostly impersonal, old or irrelevant to your everyday life problems (maybe not, but that was what I thought). So social isolation was total isolation, and extremely self-enforcing. Now it isn’t any more, due to the Internet… All information is accessible to anyone, you don’t need to be able to ingratiate anyone to get insights.

Comment by Mados

Thanks for this, I shall take a look later today, in the few hours I am grandaughter free!

Comment by springingtiger

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