Sunday, November 25, 2007

When will we stop blaming "the internet" for all the bad things?

I was browsing along on the interwebs today, like I do every other day, and came upon a story that I'd read about a few weeks ago, but there are some new developments in the story now that I think are worth discussing and questioning.

The story is about a 12 year old girl that committed suicide after her 'online' MySpace friend told her he didn't like her anymore because she was 'mean to her friends'. The interesting part of this story is that her MySpace friend was actually a neighboring adult who seemingly didn't like the 12 year old girl and decided to 'play around with her'.

Now, the 12 year old had a history of depression and attention deficit disorder, but let's face it.. she was also a 12 year old, pre-teen, pubescent girl. I don't know about you, but at that age I was lucky to get through a day without feeling like I had the most dramatic, horrible life and I would NEVER understand my parents, and how could anything be worse than this, blah blah, etc. My point is that 12 year old girls are a magnet for drama and are easily elated and crushed.. especially if affairs of the heart are involved.

I'm really not sure what part of this story bothers me more: the fact that some adult pretended to be a teenage boy for the sole purpose of toying with this girl's feelings, or the fact that the media.. once again, blames an 'online' relationship for this crime. Every time someone chooses to portray the internet as a place where only murderers, rapists, pedophiles, or 'naughty' people are, they do an incredible disservice to everyone else. I'm not negating that those people are online, but there are many more of those people living in our neighborhoods that we might want to be more concerned about.

I feel terrible for the family that had to go through this, and I feel even worse for the 12-year old girl, Megan, that was so devastated by this that she killed herself. I want to rewind time, sit her down and tell her that her world is not over if some boy is mean to her or says bad things to her. I want to be able to show her all of the things she has to look forward to and dream about. I want to tell her that not everything she reads online is true, and that sometimes people pretend to be something they aren't. I wish I could do that, but it's too late.

I'm about to share something that a lot of people don't know about me, but it's relevant here I think. When I was in elementary school and riding the bus to school, the older kids would block off all of the empty seats on the bus so I couldn't sit in them and they wouldn't let me sit with them either. With the bus driver doing nothing to stop them, and being the shy kid that I was at the time, I just went back to the front of the bus and rode in the stairwell to school. I also recall, in high school being taunted and harassed by some other girls who called me a "dog" in the hallways between classes and spent many weeks barking and yelling at me as loudly as they could to try and humiliate me. At this time, this was incredibly hurtful but I also knew that I was better than that and refused to let them upset me. My point is these sorts of things have gone on for ages, and choosing to say it was a "MySpace" friend doesn't mean that this sort of thing only happens online.

Megan Meier was a 12 year old girl that wanted some friends and had her heart broken by a mean, cruel-hearted adult that lived down the street. There is no excuse for that and I think that woman deserves whatever fate brings down on her. That being said, let's stop thinking that 'mean things' only happen to people that are communicating online when that's just not the case.



Ken said...

Excellent post. Too many people cant distinguish between chit chat and real communication.

And then there are too many people whose who life is spent on putting others down. Grrr...

The genetic pool could use a little more chlorine.

dandellion Kimban said...

Every time I hear about teens getting in trouble on-line I cannot skip to blame the parents. Yes, media is to be blamed too, school just the same... but...
When I was a kid I had to listen endless speeches about not getting a candy or chocolate from a stranger, how to be careful when crossing the street, what to do and what not to do.... Yes, I was bored and almost offended as I was growing, but I am still here.
And why today's parents miss to teach their kids about internet and MySpace? Not only about basic security, passwords, RL data and similar. There is a whole world happening on-line (it is funny to say that when one avatar is commenting on other avatar's blog), there is a lot to be told about how to approach and deal with what happens in our on-line lives.

I know... problem is that even we, adults, are not quite sure about it all. We are still experimenting and exploring internet relationships and our behaving on-line. But basic precautions can be told.

Das said...

Hey Pixel, can you give me the link to Obsession??

cmykdorothy said...


I am glad you are you, saying the things you do.

pixel bailey said...

Thanks so much for the comments everyone. I think that those of us involved in online communities understand this, but so many others don't. I wonder how long it'll be until that changes.

London Spengler said...

I'm sorry, put the blame on Timothy Lilliehook who recruited me, but you've been Tagged *grins evily*.

Please, follow the link to my post to learn about the rules. I hope that after the "why me?" groan you will find the idea funny.