27 June 2010

people are better

When they're not terrified.

We seem to have a limited amount of such energy to spread around. Being pissed off or afraid takes resources. Best to preserve it for things that we actually need it for.

The usual culprit stealing this away is some random stranger. The creepy old man on the internet.

The far more usual culprits: other teenagers. And family members or other adults with high levels of accessibility to a child (teachers, priests, coaches, etc). And basically, if you or your spouse isn't planning on doing anything to the kid (physical abuse included), it's probably safe to let them run around on the internet with little more than a quick lesson on the decorum of the net. Or lack thereof. And the same basic instilled fear of strangers that our culture seems to want to foster in its generations (although given the random likelihood of tolerance I have for new people, I'm guessing that this might be a useful thing to instill in people, if for no other reason than that it filters out a lot of crap and makes it easier to pay attention to decency and interesting finds).

Next complaint though was really funny. Shared their email. Shared their first name. Posted photos of themselves (already a fairly low percentage of teens overall doing this, of all things), and then giving out a phone number. Of these things, I'd say only the phone number is even mildly disturbing. An email can be changed or abandoned. People can be blocked and filtered out as spam. A name. Well you're supposed to be polite and introduce yourself. This doesn't say your full name was given. Photos, that's pretty much what most people (not me) use the book of faces for. And that includes teens that get on it. Basically the phone number could be a raw deal but unless it's a listed number, I still don't see how creepy guy X is going to do something terrible with it. All of these things, a name, a photo, an email, and a phone number are very commonly already known to the most common person likely to do something terrible to a child. They're given out freely or sometimes even controlled by the person committing the acts. Maybe a little caution is advisable toward strangers. But we don't need to go overboard. People, despite their somewhat rampant scum-baggery toward one another in most fields of life, aren't really running around abducting and abusing other people's kids (people and kids they don't know). Save the resources worrying about people who might go cruising the city and internet for children to molest and put them toward the kids who are actually at risk for such things (ie, kids who are raised in abusive or degenerative environments) to give them some extra resistance and help.

It's kind of like this fear. Which I remember from my youth when I attempted to trick or treat a couple of times. One guy has been charged in decades (and that long after I had given up the tradition of dressing up as some random creature once per year. I should probably consider dressing up more often as some random superhero or creature just to mess with people). Yet we were truly terrified all the same.
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