Category Archives: Social Networking

Promiscuity and Social Networking Websites

Turns 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.

Do Teens Yearn for Internet Seduction?

Reuters’ Julie Steenhuysen wrote a news essay recently which was a real shocker.  She quoted Janis Wolak of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham:

A lot of the characterizations that you see in Internet safety information suggest that sex offenders are targeting very young children and using violence and deception against their victims….

Especially since social networking sites became popular, people are suggesting that these offenders are using information to stalk and abduct their victims.  We are not seeing those types of cases.  The great majority of cases we have seen involved young teenagers, mostly 13, 14, 15 year old girls who are targeted by adults on the Internet who are straightforward about being interested in sex. 

From the perspective of the victim, these are romances.

Among the study’s other findings:

* Internet offenders pretended to be teenagers in only 5% of the crimes studied.
* Nearly 75% of victims who met offenders did so more than once.
* Youths at risk have “buddy lists” including strangers, and they discuss sex online with strangers.
* Boys who are gay or questioning their sexuality are more susceptible to Internet-initiated sex crimes than other populations, resulting in 15% of criminal cases.

Other than religious institutions, there is virtually nothing in our society that elevates sexuality to a spiritual status.  This is the result of a society which takes kids out of school (without parental notification) for abortions; which has peer sex classes showing how to put condoms on bananas; which has “sex fairs” at major colleges and universities; which has porn as mainstream, primetime television and advertising; which has practically naked models in store windows for Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret; which has families repeatedly torn apart by busy, “two parent career” homes, divorce, re-marriage, shack-ups, and other adult misbehaviors that emotionally devastate children who look elsewhere for love and comfort. 

What is normalized is yearned for by children who want to be “adults.”

Facebook Breakup Revisited

In response to my blog on the degeneration of interpersonal relationships through Facebook, MySpace, and the swell of gossip media outlets, I got this from Paul French:

You are so correct.  My wife came across a great quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that I believe explains a lot of this:  ‘Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.’

Thanks, Paul!

“Breaking Up” With Facebook

A recent essay in the New York Times (December 2, 2007) talked about the growing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and others where the word “friends” is used to describe email relationships with folks we barely know.  Humans are gregarious creatures and fare better belonging to networks of family, community, spiritual groups, clubs, and so forth – all of which are sustained through face-to-face contact.

The bottom line is that the more time we spend online, the less time we spend having true relationships complete with challenges, vulnerability, risks and profundity.  These are not real-world relationships with depth.  These on-line relationships are shadows and facsimiles which ultimately amount to little more than casual, superficial experiences.

One mother, Jene, who listens regularly to my radio program, sent me this letter her 21 year-old son wrote to Facebook.  I suggest you show this to all your children and read it twice yourself if you are hooked to on-line pseudo-friendships:

“As a mother of two young adults, I’ve witnessed their obsessive involvement with the many electronic forms of communication that are all the rage in recent years…email, instant messaging, texting, and the several web-based social networks like Facebook and MySpace.  All are useful communication tools, but often counterproductive in really getting to know people.

It came to my attention that my 21 year-old son took a bold step recently and closed down his Facebook account by writing a breaking-up letter and posting it as a good-bye.  When he shared it with me, I was touched, relieved, and very proud of his stand.  I asked him if I might share this with you.  His grin, soft laugh and nod of his head spoke volumes:
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