Due to my reserved and quite nature, my acquaintances usually do not associate me with the music I play: http://pds21.egloos.com/pds/201105/11/60/SPELL_PREMIX.swf
This skinny Asian guy in glasses you see in your class took three years off from school to receive military training procedures and play music. I remember the first time I got ID’d at the local deli. The guy went crazy and kept saying, “You? 25 years old? Real?” I look so young.
Joking aside, facades can be deceiving. When Barbara Leung tweeted about having found NYU students on OKCupid, I trembled in fear. If anybody remembers our first class, our professor asked if anyone was registered on the online dating website, but I DID NOT RAISE MY HAND. I deactivated and terminated my account few weeks before the tweet, but my profile is still Googlable. Don’t.
What I felt upon reading that tweet is perhaps similar to what this, to quote the article, “Twitter pervert,” felt when he got caught.
Kent Online‘s article, Girl’s lucky escape from Twitter pervert posing as teen, describes how 56-year-old Westgarth, who apparently “has a low IQ and a learning disability,” acquired another ticket to the jail. He posed as Zac, 17 years old, on Twitter, to bait unsuspecting teenage girls. A girl found his facade attractive, considered there was something mutual between them and attempted to meet Zac in person. Instead, she found an old man and his 21-year-old “lover” posing as a sister.
It’s fortunate that nothing seriously harmful happened. The girl called the cops at the right moment. She did the right thing at the end, and she probably does not want to get publicized for such mishap.
However, this incident is such an ideal example for parents to cite when they educate their children about the dangers of the Internet. danah boyd‘s Why Youth <3 Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life is a great article that touches upon multiple subjects, such as examining social network sites’ different affordances and functions of mediated environments / publics. Of all the topics, I am interested in her close study of “power games” between youths and older generations who seek to protect them.
boyd argues that restriction-based protection is an “ongoing culture of fear” instigated by “moral entrepreneurs” which “overstates the actual dangers and obfuscates real risks in the process” (boyd 135). From the perspective of “moral entrepreneurs,” the girl who fell for Zac cannot be sympathized, and she can even be considered a criminal who violated several important rules imposed by them: she revealed her personal information on the web, she believed someone on the web and she went to meet someone from the web.
Incidents like Westgarth’s case can be used to feed the “pervading attitude that teens must be protected from their mistakes” (boyd 135). While it largely employs a neutral tone, the article seems to degrade the victim with this line: “The teenage girl even ran up a £400 phone bill chatting to the man she ‘met’ on Twitter” (Kent). Divide the bill into several months, the actual duration it took Westgarth to make the girl come over to his place, and the amount is not financially devastating for middle class households.
This is not to honor the girl’s actions. It was a dangerous decision for her to travel just to meet a person whom she had never met. Protective attitudes come along the ways of those with physical weakness, as self-defense is harder for them to practice. The fact that she could travel to meet a stranger hints at a lack of advice.
However, protection is not a necessity especially if it is overly done. Youths today are more familiar with SNSs and the dangers.
Here is an excerpt from one chat log I saved from Omegle, a chatting website that lets anyone talk with everyone on the website with total anonymity.
This excerpt clearly shows that the Stranger, who told me she was a “girrlll,” knows how dangerous it is and chooses not to give out personal information on Omegle, even though some people on the website do it. In fact, this excerpt shows the mistake I made years ago, when I tried to recruit a drummer from the Internet. I did find all my band members from the web, but not from Omegle.
Omegle used to be a website full of perverts looking for cybersex or promoting sexual web-cam websites, like this one:
If I had played along, she would have given me a link where I could see her, perhaps naked, for a small amount of fee. It is possible that she was a normal girl who just wanted to sext me on Omegle, but I chose to protect myself.
The girl from the first excerpt of Omegle chat log is a great example of a web-conscious youth who knows how to enjoy SNSs without falling into traps laid out by predators. She is the epitome of the bright future where all youths will learn to think twice before going all out on the Internet.