Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Great Big Scary

Disturbing. Right Wing Sparkle links to a Frontline story on the Great Big Scary Internet.

Of course it's disturbing. That's what Frontline (and all "news" shows) sells: disturbing, scary, ominous, whatever makes them seem relevant. Every now and again one of these shows will come up with something actually useful. (I think it was Dateline NBC that introduced us to the Charlie Foundation.)

But they can't--or don't think they can--survive on a diet of just useful information, so even when they have useful information, they dress it up in fear.

The abused analogy of ten years ago was "information superhighway". But if we were putting up superhighways now, these shows would sell stories on the basis of the fatal accidents that occur on them, and less on the value to commerce and even lifesaving value they can have.

Meanwhile, a modicum of common sense is all that's required with regard to the 'net, not too much more sophisticated then "look both ways when you cross the street". Most kids can and do benefit from the 'net, educationally and socially. Not just "most" but the vast number, to where the seriously harmed ones are statistical outliers.

Speaking of outliers, there are some kids who probably need to be kept far away from the 'net, just like there are some that need to be kept away from television, and others that need to be kept away from soy products.

The cyber-bullying thing is kind of interesting though.. I sort of wonder if the upshot of being exposed to Internet Trolls is that this next generation is going to be very hard to intimidate or even provoke. It's impossible to function online very long without learning to ignore them.

Maybe everything bad IS good for you!


  1. The important thing to do with kids is to teach them to stand up to bullies. In the school yard and on the internet. Look at our old pal Luckyoldson on Althouse. A bigger bully was hard to find. But I started a meme based on his past positions and postings that others picked up on because it rang true and called him out. And he faded away. Or started posting under another name. So let the kids know that you got to listen to Al Swearengen:

    Pain or damage don't end the world. Or despair or fucking beatings. The world ends when you're dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man... and give some back.

  2. Are you the one who drove him out?

    There should be a a cyber Congressional medal of honor for that.

    I'm big into stoicism. For kids, though, there's that fine line between not whining and not telling your parents something they should know.

  3. Maybe so, but it is important to teach your kids how to fight. Especially how to fight dirty. Otherwise they are going to get roughed up pretty bad in life. Just Brooklyn logic, but it seems to work out pretty good.

  4. I don't think I was the one that got rid of our buddy, I was just a pebble in the avalanche of mockery that made him change his persona. At least I like to think so, let me enjoy my delusions.

  5. There are no "clean" fights, not for realsies.

    In the ring, sure, fight fair.

    In the street, anything that allows you to win goes.

    'tis a shame that some people treat conversations that way.

  6. Blake - did you watch the show? the link in your post did not work but I think this piece was much more thoughtful and interesting that something that you'd find on dateline or other shows. No one is really suggesting that the internet is bad for kids. Part of the point of the program was that on-line predators are not really a major threat and yes, simple common sense can address these problems but other issues of teens on-line can be very serious and make problems from the pre-internet age even worse. I think that each case described in the show represents many kids today.

  7. Froggy,

    Nah, I don't really turn to TV for parenting advice. But I allow that it could have been a good show: That happens not infrequently.

    But it's always gotta be marketed the same way: "The air you breathe: Killing you? Find out on next week's show!" The breathless headline on the site was undercut by the more reasonable content of the copy, and that's something.


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