Fascinating documentary on ABC last night (link), showing what happens when teens get to play on the Internet without Adult supervision. As the parent of two teenage boys the show was very revealing. I’m fortunate to have boys and not girls, and I’m also fortunate to understand how the technology works, and I’m careful to ensure that I’m “present” with my kids everyday without infringing on their privacy.
What I saw last night amazed me. Kids today have too many electronic gadgets to communicate with, and way too much time on their hands. These online social networks are removing something very precious…. “personalization”.
Today it’s all about IM’ing, cellphone camera snapshots which are then Photoshop’d to add new and even meaner context. Kids have no idea that the millisecond after they hit the send key there message is in cyberspace forever. They also have no idea how much damage an email or IM message can do. One child hung himself he was so depressed.
Years ago when we were releasing mod_gzip I got involved in some really brutal email flame wars on the Apache forum. I learned something really important from all of that… there are times email is useful as a communication medium and other times it’s really destructive. I no longer engage in email flame wars… if I have an issue I pick up the phone and arrange a face to face meeting.
Everyday the world becomes a little more desensitized due to electronic communications. Maybe it’s time to get back to good old fashioned, one on one, face to face communication. And when you do, start every conversation respectfully. The results will be a lot different.