...and I really get worried about how I will parent children growing up with the internet.
They're Back, and They're Bad: Campus-Gossip Web Sites
Students have more ways than ever to post anonymous attacks on classmates, thanks (or rather, no thanks) to new and expanded online forums promising to be bigger and juicier than the infamous JuicyCampus, which drew fierce protests from harassed students before it shut down earlier this year.
"This is the new JuicyCampus," says a note at Campus Gossip, which boasts campus-specific message boards for hundreds of colleges and encourages anonymous and racy barbs such as "These Fellas got herpes," with a list of names attached. Going even further than its predecessor, there's also a photo section where students can post embarrassing pictures and videos of others.
I wandered over to the site (which I don't even want to name) and it was full of misogynist crap, foul mouthed hate and just stupid remarks about college, fraternities, certain specific people and inanities.
I know there has always been gossip. Mean boys and girls who spread rumours to wield power. Titterings in the bathroom about so-and-so and her new boyfriend. I do it too; and I know it's not very nice. But I also have some sense about when and where I have these discussions. I don't write them down. I don't post them anonymously on some website. I certainly don't NAME people in writing in public forums.
I can't imagine how it would feel to see my name on a website which disparages me as a slut or as too ugly to sleep with or which in any other way assesses my appropriateness as the object of partriarchy uber-babeness. First off, I don't fucking care how I rate in the hotness contest of my oppression, but more than that, why would those making the posts think this is okay or free-speech?
And how do a you a) keep your kids from doing stuff like this and b) keep your kids from being the subject of this stuff?
As someone who spends a lot of time on the internet--facebook (which I really don't like), twitter, the blog, ravelry etc--I know that it's part of the world and has much to offer. I connect with all sorts of people I would never otherwise meet and 99% of the time they are good, interesting, generous, smart people. They are also, for the most part, of my generation and like me straddle the thin line that has them out there in the world wide web while also trying to keep some boundaries on their privacy.
Believe it or not, I don't tell you everything about my life here. ;)
But I might share it on a closed message board with people I "know" (at least virtually) and trust. I gauge my disclosures on the forum in which they will be released, but it seems like these gossip sites don't promote the same filters and younger people don't seem to even consider the consequences of their postings. That the facebook photos of them puking at some party today, are going to be around forever and might not seem to so funny when they're applying for a job or wanting to volunteer at their kid's Scout troop.
While I write that, I feel that "in my day, people knew about respect" speech my mother/grandmother/great-grandmother gave and I feel a bit old. But really it's the truth. I suppose that respect and decorum have to be learned. And yes, my kids are going to learn it. While I can't completely control what they say, I can enforce the idea that gossip isn't nice and that gossiping in a public forum on the internet or texting is wrong, wrong, wrong. I can tell them to think about how they would feel if someone did that to them and teach them to challenge others who are doing these things and not stand by and let it happen to some other kid.
As for protecting them from others, well I have to trust there are more of me's out there telling their kids the same thing. There better be...