Monday, February 24, 2014

Remove yourself from danger, but fight to remove the danger too.

The last time the Teen visited our local park with his friends, he was sent home by two kindly police officers. Not because he or his friends were breaking any laws, nor were they being a nuisance or causing any harm, but because there was another person in the park who was spraying graffiti on the toilet block, spraying graffiti the toilet block soon turned to violent vandalism in the form of kicking in the toilet doors. When the police arrived, the threats of violence escalated and the police officers moved my son and his mates on for their own safety while they diffused the situation.

When my son arrived home, my first thoughts were those of anger, can my kid not even visit the park anymore for crying out loud? Is nowhere safe?
I was grateful to the police for removing my son from danger, however there was a part of me that was angry that my son had to be removed.
I want the danger removed. I want too want support for the person committing these dangers. What has life given them that makes them so.. No one is born a jerk you know?

The group of friends disbanded and they took to their rooms, sported headphones and continued their conversations over Skype and IM, you know, where its safe. *Rolls eyes.

Like it or not the internet has become our childrens playground. For various reasons, we have failed them in providing clean and safe streets. We have fallen short of being able to send them out until the street lights come on. It cant stop us sending our kids out on their bikes to hang out at the park. Our worries may be greater but it cant stop us, we need to fight tooth and nail to keep our playgrounds safe for our kids. To not remove our children from danger, but have zero tolerance for it, and remove the danger from our kids.

From all of their playgrounds, including the internet.

Anyone who has spent any time putting themselves out there on line has been subjected to some sort of backlash, anonymous comments, anonymous emails, nasty tweets and other vitriol eating away at the fabric of the internet. It happens every day.

While I thankfully have developed a very thick skin when it comes to trolling, I cant forget that it had to develop.
There was a time when I took every criticism to heart, I couldnt understand why someone would take time out of their day to tell me I was a fucking asshole and I should give up, or suck a cock, or die.

I admit that some of the things directed at me would make me cry. My children would see me cry and I used the opportunity to have a completely open and honest conversation about cyber hate with my children.

I told them that people say hurtful things and sometimes that is upsetting, I used it as a reminder that there is someone on the receiving end of hateful remarks on the internet, a person, not just a screen name and they should never knowingly make others feel that way, and if they were ever on the receiving end, that they could talk to me. That I would understand that I could help and they never had a need to keep quiet about these things.

If I spent any time feeling that way, and I like to think I have a healthy self esteem, a supportive, loving family and many beautiful friends, the insight to know that for every person who says something nasty, there are 100 more people who love what I write, and the support of people in my industry whom gave me a solid dose of support and insight when I was needy and repulsive and whiny.
Even at my age, and with knowing these things, and with the support I had, my thick skin took a long time to develop.

How the hell do we expect our kids to deal with it?

I am not going to weigh into the Charlotte debate. I think weighing in on something so complex with such little knowledge would be an insult.

I will say though, that I will fight tooth and nail to make sure that all of my childrens playgrounds are safe. The term, If you cant handle it, get of the internet, or if you are going to put yourself out there then you have to expect it, or mah favourite…’ Dont like it, leave it, makes my middle finger so erect with rage.

I am all for leaving a dangerous situation, but I sure as shit wont tolerate the danger being there in the first place. Not in my fucking playground, not in any of them.

Please take a moment to sign this petition.

If it is illegal in the local park, if it is damaging to someone, if it is against the law to say to someones face, them make it illegal here too.

Get loud about those who are unkind, but be louder about how it makes you feel. Especially to your kids. Give language to the emotions that as yet have no name. Someone out there is feeling the same way, they just dont know what to name it either.

Support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or follow LifelineAust OntheLineAus kidshelp beyondblue headspace, aus ReachOut, AUS on Twitter.


Not for you said...

Your park analogy is a little narrow to apply to the whole World Wide Web, let alone the entire Internet. The WWW, much like the real world itself has parts that are suitable for kids and teens and places that are not. Alcoholics need to pass by pubs, kids need to walk past dodgy places occasionally and those who are emotionally fragile should probably avoid flame wars on Twitter.

I'm not saying by any stretch of the imagination "like it or lump it", however I am saying that the real world has places where people get hurt and the obvious response is "well what do you expect taking a camera crew into a warzone" - society is still adapting to the virtual equivalents and needs to work out a way to deal with it.

I would extend your analogy to Twitter is the park where there is always some arsehole there vandalising the toilet block and that it should be treated as such.

Social networking has only really been popular for the last 8 years. It's going to take a while until we sort this one out.

Emmas Brain said...

I love you Brad, I really do, but I couldn't disagree with you any more on this.
No one is saying kids should be able to go unsupervised wherever they like on the web, I distinctly remember googling the words 'cucumber facial' and regretting it immediately.. It's obvious the entire web is not child friendly, but I do believe that kids, teens and in fact..everyone, (yes even the unstable) have a right to express themselves without coming under attack or threat.
A lot of troubled people use the web for support and community, I am not naive enough to assume that there we can rid the entire web from psychopaths with complex inferiority issues that take pleasure in threatening or tormenting others, but there should be consequences to those actions, the same way you can't go around threatening and tormenting people on the street, or in people's homes.
The emotionally unstable should avoid flame wars on twitter? Really?
It's like saying rape victims asked for it, because they wore revealing clothing or walked home at night alone. Victim blaming is very 1992.. Having said that, I agree that social networking has a lot of kinks to work out.

Not for you said...

I need to make myself clearer. And then probably make myself less clear.

The rape analogy is close to my alcoholic one but subtly different enough to distance myself from the victim-is-to-blame-mentality that I was not intending. An alcoholic probably shouldn't spend their time in bars if they don't want to re-lapse into drinking. What you're saying is that my alcoholic should consider himself party to blame if he gets glassed in a pub. I'm not saying that.

People are legally held accountable for what they do and say on the Internet. In some jurisdictions, the penalty for doing something online or electronically is worse than doing it in real space. The problem is proving and enforcing the crime in a land of anonymity. This I can say, with considerable certainty, will not improve to a standard beyond that in real life. The Internet was originally designed to be able to route around and still function even when whole areas of the network becoming unresponsive (literally blown up was the original spec) and so far as the Internet is concerned, censorship / forced authentication etc tends to be treated like network damage and the system simple evolves around it with new applications. The introduction of the line up, brought novel usages for stockings and balaclavas.

So, in long winded summary, I wasn't saying the victim was to blame - I'm saying that people need to adjust their behaviour to the amount of risk they are willing to personally accept. I also add that this doesn't apply to specific examples - unless one knows facts of the case. I also add that the Internet will never be safer than real life and that real life has just as many unsolved cases.

Love and best fishes. Brad.

Emmas Brain said...

Indeed, the anonymity is the concern, however necessary for true freedom of speech. I would like to see the access to anonymity restricted somewhat, but then where do we draw the line Brad?? WHERE DO, WE DRAW THE LINE!?!
I do agree in that I doubt we will see an improvment on line to a standard beyond that in real life sadly.
Thanks for clarifying. I would hate to think of you as a victim blamer.. There is a shortage of good podiatrists in this world. ;)