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Internet
05/13/2010
IconIn a recent radio interview, I discussed the issue of "webtribution," a term coined by Elizabeth Bernstein in The Wall Street Journal to describe people who use the Internet to get revenge - i.e., publicly to hurt another human being with whom they are not happy.The Internet is anonymous, immediate, and gratifying in the moment.' In human history, vengeance is not unfamiliar - people haven't changed that much.' Their means of delivering pain has evolved from poison, duels, clever rumors, and Machiavellian manipulation to the world wide web.' In some ways, damaging someone's reputation is akin to murdering them, as their reputation is devastated world-wide and forever, making it difficult for them to function in private relationships as well as in the community and at work.To quote The Wall Street Journal: "Most of us have heard of someone posting naked photos of an 'ex' online.' Or writing nasty reviews for a restaurant or book, not because they dislike the product, but because they dislike the person who created it.' Or signing up an acquaintance for [unwanted] e-mail advertising lists." My opinion is that it should be illegal, as it is immoral, to post information or opinion about people without identifying yourself.' Obviously, it is also cowardly.' Google and all other such carriers should not permit anonymity.' That would immediately change the complexion of what is posted, and I don't think they'd lose business, except from those who use the Internet for evil (terrorists of the international and interpersonal kind). More >>

Tags: BehaviorCharacterCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceCivilityEthicsInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaJill CooperMoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesSimple SavingsSocial IssuesSocial NetworkingStay-at-Home MomValues
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05/13/2010
IconI remember when the Unabomber was caught.' There was an uproar of indignation concerning the fact that it was his brother who "ratted" him out.' When his brother saw the published ramblings of the serial murderer known as the "Unabomber," he recognized the sentiments, mentality, and writing style of his brother, and informed the police.' If memory serves me right, The Los Angeles Times had either an editorial or an op-ed piece castigating the brother for essentially "turning on blood."That was a morally repugnant point of view.' Protecting the innocent against evil is the responsibility of every human being, regardless of the "job description" of the evildoer - in this case, a sibling.Fortunately, in England, a wife of twenty years understood her responsibility to others (in this case, children), and set aside emotional pain and potential embarrassment.' She set out to trap her husband, whom she suspected of being a pedophile.' Apparently, her husband chatted with teenagers as he groomed them for sex.The wife pretended to be a 14 year old girl, and caught him in the act.' She was in the neighboring living room while he was in his study sweating over a hot computer, setting "her" up for a meeting to have sex.' He also used a webcam to carry out sex acts and send the videos over the Internet.' Our plucky wife watched this in absolute disgust and horror.She then contacted police who seized his computer.' She didn't march into his study to confront him, cry, or threaten.' Like a good citizen, she just turned it all over to the authorities. GOOD FOR HER! He only received three years of community service and was banned indefinitely from having access in person or online to children under the age of 18.' He also had to register as a sex offender, and, oh yes, she divorced him. "I did the right thing, and I don't regret it.' Now I just need some time to think and put this all behind me," she said to a reporter.She should have gotten a medal. More >>

Tags: AbuseCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceChild AbuseCourageFamily/Relationships - ChildrenInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMarriageMoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesParentingSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconDuring my college years in the Sixties, "empowerment" and "consciousness-raising" were the main focus of existence, even though these concepts were largely used to insist that you were a victim of something or someone just for being female.Well, fast forward to now, and one young, married woman in her twenties has decided that giving birth live on the Internet is empowering to women!' The use of that term in this circumstance cracks me up.' I remember, during my loooong labor, my husband saying that he was going to leave to get a cup of coffee.' I threatened him with "if you leave...never come back!!"' I guess that threat was "empowerment," but giving birth in public or private is one of our least powerful times.' We are completely at the mercy of a baby who is usually saying "Hell, no, I won't go."Nonetheless, this woman has decided that taking something personal and making it public is empowering and educational and spreading joy.' Oh, puleeze!' In our sadly growing exhibitionist, voyeuristic, reality show mentality of a society, this is how people become "important," known, and "famous."The point of "personal" is that something is perfected by its modesty, and sharing is not an issue of public promotion, but an opportunity for a few people to embrace a meaningful moment of experience.' Experiences and moments that are universal (like child-bearing) are not educational.' The childbirth is going to be posted on a mom website, which means that they've all been there and done that.Her husband is marginalized.' She admits that he was "hesitant" at first, but I'm sure he ultimately had no say.' There aren't too many decent men who want to share the birth of their first child with a camera crew and a blog audience - that makes Daddy less special and less involved.It's all just sad to me.' And what happens after the event, when the thrill, the attention and adrenaline of being in the spotlight goes away?' What is she going to do with this kid to keep the flow going?' Think Jon and Kate.' Think "sad" for the children who become the means of their parents' moment in the light, in ways other than simply enjoying their first smiles and first steps. More >>

Tags: Common SenseFamilyFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - FamilyFeminismInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMarriageMorals, Ethics, ValuesMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingPregnancyRelationshipsRelativesSocial IssuesValues
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Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingSocial Networking
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05/13/2010
Icon"Technology is the Evil Empire, Bent On Destroying Family Intimacy!" That's the headline I'd like to put on this post, but guns don't shoot people - people shoot people - so technology is not destroying families. People are destroying their own families.The technology I'm talking about is texting, video gaming, Facebook, email, Twitter, MySpace and more. Remember when the only complaint about lack of communication in families was when family members were all in separate rooms watching different television programs? Well, now, family members can all be in the same room, totally ignoring each other for the sake of fake friends and useless information, instead of for family conversations. Some family members even text each other from different parts of the same home, rather than walk the 15 feet, hug, and talk to each other.I remember the not-so-recent TV ads that promoted a family eating dinner together. Now, if you showed an ad with a family at the dinner table, there'd have to be a sign nearby that said "No Wireless Zone." I wonder what depth of interaction is being missed because one is getting superficial "quickies" from texting or emailing or Facebooking?' On the other hand, I already know that we're less able to engage in reasoned, significant discourse and profound intimacies these days, because, from the age of 4 or 5, we're geared toward the superficial, faceless exchange of comments on each other's web pages.Parents, you must get yourselves into gear and limit the amount of time per day donated to the wireless world outside of work. Otherwise, over time, there'll be no need for lips and vocal cords and eye contact, and we'll evolve into "thumbs only" beings who just peck away with a false sense of actually participating in the real world. More >>

Tags: DivorceFamilyFamily/Relationships - FamilyInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMySpaceRelationshipsRelativesSocial IssuesSocial NetworkingTwitter
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05/13/2010
IconThe good, the bad, and the ugly....That was the title of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western (I loved all of them), but in this case, I'm referring to the Internet, but in the same way that I would refer to guns or electricity.' Do you think I've blown a mental fuse?' No.' Here's my outlook:Right now, the governments of China and Iran are working ceaselessly to block web access to its populace.' Why?' So information the government "does not want you to know about" won't get in, and the truth of what is going on inside these totalitarian regimes will not get out.Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and their ilk have revealed the atrocities against the people of Iran protesting the sham presidential elections.' Beatings and murders have been viewed around the world, as people have had the courage to use cell phones and such to take the governmentally prohibited pictures.This, obviously, is a case of calling the Internet GOOD.On the other hand, we have people in the United States of America (where communication is completely open, some say to an unfettered fault) using the Internet for pornography.This, obviously, is a case of calling the Internet BAD.Internet sites have been used to defame and harass people.' Internet sites are being used to "publish" speculation, opinion, and downright meanness as "fact."' Internet sites have been used to troll for victims in order to rob, rape, and murder.' Internet sites have been used to incite violence, threaten, and frighten.This, obviously, is a case of calling the Internet UGLY.Electricity and guns can be thought of in the same way:' you can get electrocuted by dropping a hair dryer in the tub when you're in it, or electricity can be used to run a ventilator and save lives.' Guns can be used in robberies and murders, or they can be used by the free to ward off tyranny and other assailants.Objects have no moral value - the way they are used is the issue - and that assessment is in the hands of the user.' We all have the ability to choose right from wrong.' Our choices, though, generally depend greatly on the human atmosphere around us.' For example, we are more likely to be able to do atrocious things if we're part of a group.' We wouldn't dream of doing them alone.' Yet, there are those who can perpetrate evil all on their own.We are more likely to choose good when we are surrounded by people supportive of "good," and judgmental of "bad."'' However, when the cultural atmosphere dissipates with respect to values and moral judgment, it's easy for an individual to operate out of the moment without regard to circumstances or their soul.'It takes a strong person to choose good for its own sake.' There is often little reward or regard given to them.' There was a time when a child, seeing a dollar fall from an elderly gentleman's pocket, would race to give it back to him.' He would then get his picture on the front page of the local paper - rewarding him for character.' Now, that same child would probably not even entertain the thought of returning the money.' What for?' Look around that child - parents cheat, politicians cheat, entertainers and sports stars cheat.' What's the motivation?The good, the bad, and the ugly - two out of three are on the wrong side.' You choose every day which side to be on.' Now, go do the right thing. More >>

Tags: InternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconIn the more than three decades I have been on the radio and in counseling practice, the saddest experiences (and the most difficult to be helpful with) are those where parents call to tell me their child is dead.' The child may have been the victim of an accident, war, a crime, an illness, or a suicide.' No matter which, the pain is unimaginable and the duration is infinite.' It is against the "order of things" for our children to die first; and it is against the order of things for us to feel incapable of protecting our children from everything, anything, and anyone.'The hurt and rage a parent feels is understandable.' A desire to do something with that hurt and rage is also understandable. It is generally difficult to get a sense of closure or justice or revenge.' And so many parents believe that, if they can get one or all of those, the pain goes away.' It doesn't....not really.An 18 year old young woman in Ohio sent nude pictures of herself to a boyfriend.' Apparently, this "texting" of private parts is quite the rage in the youth population.' At some point, the relationship ended, and he, I guess, thought it would be amusing to send the photos to other students at the school.In May, 2008, the young teen went on a local Cincinnati television station to warn other teens against sending personal body part or naked photos to others, lest they also go through the harassment that she got, as students - mostly girls - called her a "slut" and a "whore."' In spite of her noble efforts to warn other young people, and the gratitude she got from innumerable parents, two months later, she decided to kill herself, apparently as a way to avoid the painful embarrassment."Sexting" (as it's called) is a growing problem that has resulted in child pornography charges being filed against some teens across the country, because sending sexually charged pictures of minors is a crime' One national survey found that 39% or more of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages, and 48% report receiving them!This young woman was humiliated by the daily snide remarks, and she started skipping school.' Her mother drove her to school to make sure she got there.' Then, after attending the funeral of one of her friends who committed suicide, this young, tormented woman hanged herself in her bedroom.Of course, the focus for her mother is an attempt to punish those students or the school with lawsuits and criminal charges.' The mother is understandably beside herself and wanting to lash out in rage.' However, the fault doesn't lie in the stars.' The openly sexual environment that children are exposed to makes these behaviors (like oral sex in middle school classrooms and bathrooms across the country) seem like the norm for the day.' Girls have always wanted to make boys love them, and cell phone texting technology just gives young people another avenue to express their hopeful desperation to be wanted and loved.It was pathetic and stupid of her to send the picture; it was unconscionable of her ex-boyfriend to expose her to ridicule; it was disgusting for girls (competitive little witches that some can be) to make fun of her; it was brave for her to use her experience to warn others; it was too bad her family didn't get her mental health support or transfer her to another school; it was a deadly coincidence that her friend committed suicide; it is an unspeakable anguish that she thought this was the best solution for a "temporary" problem.I hesitate to write "temporary" because, with the Internet, such photos are forever, and those who wish to cause hurt to others relish in exploiting such mishaps for their own pathetic ego gain.Parents, many of your children have already done this via hand-held video cameras or computer cameras.' Many of your children have already been "embarrassed," while others have become more popular.' Very few will kill themselves, but even then, something in them does die, as what is precious and private becomes entertainment for the immature and downright mean.' Parents, make sure your kids know not to become either. More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - TeensInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMental HealthSexSexualitySocial IssuesSuicideTeensValues
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05/13/2010
IconI'm just sickened to hear the news that Lori Drew was only convicted on three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized access to computers after she, her then 18 - year-old assistant, and her teen daughter plotted to humiliate a neighbor 13-year-old...who ended up killing herself because of the emotional pain she endured at their fingertips on the computer keys.You've probably heard the story: the young girl committed suicide in October of 2006 after the end of her online relationship with a fictitious 16-year-old-boy created on a fake MySpace account.' According to various news reports, the trio used the account to contact and befriend Megan.' Within a few days, Lori Drew encouraged her daughter and her assistant to on-line flirt with Megan; they planned to lure Megan to a mall to confront her with the hoax and taunt her.As things go and grow, another neighborhood girl got involved in the whole thing and sent Megan a message - as if she were the fictitious boy - that he didn't want to be friends anymore.' Lori Drew's assistant then, according to the District Attorney, wrote, "the world would be a better place without you in it."Twenty minutes later, Megan's mother found her hanging from her belt in her bedroom closet.I'm not a lawyer and I don't really understand all the legal machinations about what criminal behavior this planned cruelty constitutes, but it's clear that there's no real punishment for people who misrepresent themselves on an internet chat site with the INTENT to do emotional harm to a child known to have several psychiatric disorders.' Federal and state laws appear to be mute on this issue, and while companies like MySpace have "Terms Of Agreement" (which is kinda what "caught" Lori Drew, because she didn't abide by those terms), they don't have much in the way of "teeth" - often the most they can do is terminate the service of the offender.Imagine: one mother decided to drive another mother's child to devastating emotional pain as entertainment; she includes her own young teen daughter and a young adult employee....and they all have a great time of it.' No one charged the assistant or the daughter, even though they were all complicit in the intent to do emotional harm.'I hope there is a civil court for something like wrongful death so that these people pay some price for their evil cruelty.Now - add to that the parental responsibility of more supervision of this vulnerable, fragile, emotionally compromised child...her parents had reversed the lock on her bedroom for her "safety," as they were aware that she had problems.' Children without psychiatric issues ought not have unsupervised access to the internet or text messaging or any form of communication without parental oversight.' Children with psychiatric issues are at more risk.'Recently, another teenager, this one 19, overdosed with several medications to kill himself while his computer stayed on so that everyone on the net could watch him die.' There was a huge rageful response to folks waiting 12 hours before reporting this situation to the net site or the police...who came too late.It seems that he'd done this before, so many folks thought he was playing "wolf," others just didn't care, some showed concern, and others just "egged" him on....the same way folks on the ground often "egg on" a person threatening to jump from a tall building.' There are always creeps about.What was curious to me is that the reports of this event include that the boy died in his father's room and on his bed; that he used a combination of prescription and illegal medications.' Again we have a pathetically ill young man without proper supervision by those who could understand and help him.' It sounds like he needed hospitalization.The Internet gives young folks the attention and pseudo-importance they naturally crave.' It is also a conduit for evil...the same way electricity is neutral...unless you try to electrocute somebody with it.Parents have to be less casual about the evil that comes through all these technological marvels of communication. More >>

Tags: Character, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - TeensInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingSAHM stay at home momTeensValues
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05/13/2010
IconAccording to a study being released in November's American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry , Internet web searching may just enhance brain activity and keep your elderly (55-75 years of age) brain working at top function.The study compared 24 subjects between the ages of 55 and 75, and discovered using MRI scans that reading a book helped stimulate certain areas of the brain that had to do with language, memory, and visuals.' They also found that searching the Internet created these same stimulations, but activated more of the frontal, temporal, and cingulated areas of the brain - areas that have a lot to do with decision-making skills. More >>

Tags: Eat Less-Move MoreFitnessHealthInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaSocial Issues
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05/13/2010
IconTurns out that the latter leads to the former!' Recent research by the University of Buffalo Department of Communication and the University of Hawaii reveals that the people who watch reality television visit social networking websites to engage in behaviors like the celebrities they see on shows like American Idol or Survivor .When people on reality TV are rewarded for their behavior, it communicates to the (usually) young audience that these behaviors are good things.' These so-called "reality" TV shows depict people being exploitive, deceitful, hyper-emotional, vengeful, conspiratorial, sexually promiscuous, generally undignified, immodest, self-centered, and basically exhibitionistic.According to the university research, "heavy reality TV viewers may adapt personality traits association with celebrities....Reality TV even may be to blame for the erosion of the distinction between the everyday world and the celebrity world." This phenomenon is encouraging young folks to make personal information about themselves publicly available online.' We've all heard about the proliferation of youngsters sending photos to each other and through the Internet, revealing their genitals and showing themselves engaged in various sexual acts.' Instead of this being "shameful," it's trendy.' Parents are becoming way too lax in allowing their children access to electronic equipment, from cell phones to the Internet, without any supervision.' So, with a little "push" and little "pull" back, kids are getting themselves into situations which will impact them for a lifetime.When children behave like out-of-control celebrities, including drug use, sex, having out-of-wedlock babies, "shacking up," and testing their parents' limits as well as the limits of the law, they are less likely to be studying, participating in sports, or contributing charitably in their neighborhoods. More >>

Tags: divorceFamilyFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - FamilyFamily/Relationships - TeensInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingRelationshipsRelativesSexSexualitySocial NetworkingTeens
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