If you choose to go online and be a normal person not some lame Facebook lurker or luddite you are choosing to end your private life. I’m just so glad that I was born 15 years too early to have my entire life publicly displayed online. I cringe when I think of all the stupid, ignorant, hateful things that I said when I was a high school student. All of the wild hormone fueled thoughts I had as a teenager as safely kept in a paper bound journal never to be seen or read by anyone not even myself.
My little cousin was not as fortunate, she was born in the age of FB and we happened to be friends. I shutter when I think of her posts fighting with her boyfriend, her sexualized images posted as just a 15 years old. I cannot help but feel sorry for her online archive of her adolescent blunders in love and life. There is an entire generation of young folks learning this difficult lesson; it is unfair that they must be the test subjects for this public spectacle experiment.
Young women just blossoming into their sexuality are exposed to non-stop pressure by peers to expose their bodies online or through snap chat. Just as Danah Boyd stated in her Youtube talk The Future of Privacy in Social Media, “What scales and gains popularity is vulgar, sexual, humiliating grotesque or sexual”. The average teenager in America spends 9 hours a day online. The pressure for virtual popularity and being in the know though social media has never been so fierce. When young women see that the easiest way to get Internet points and up votes is by exposing their bodies it is no wonder that they do so. Social Media superstars like the Kardashians have made millions off the internet by manipulating the public into looking at them and whether in disgust or lust we generate clicks. This is the world we live in.
The problem is as Eric Schmitt said in his NPR interview with All Things Considered, “There is no Delete button on the internet.” Once it is out there people can take screen shots and once it is viral it will live forever online.
We as parents and educators must be cognizant of these issues around online privacy and protect and educate the young people on the consequences of posting online. We must find the balance between being and engaged net citizen contributing positively to on going dialog of virtual humanity and the gray area that can lead into the vulgar and hurtful. One of the greatest tests of this young generation will be how to groom a responsible online image.