Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When Honesty Goes Too Far

I recently read an article about how facebook has now included an 'honesty box' where I can ask people to comment on whether or not they like my new dress, or if they like what I post, or if they like me! Even though I don't have this option on facebook, it seemed to me like a fun way to let admirers and such, finally tell the truth about feelings...creating a little flirting fun....BUT I kept reading the article and discovered that this new addition to facebook can do more harm than good.

This morning while conducting a search in the New York Times, I ran across another article that talked about three teenagers living in Nantucket, Massachusetts that committed suicide within months of each other. Though no connections between these three individuals, the island suffered incredibly because of this experience. I kept reading and found these statistics from the New York Times article: Teenage Suicides Bewilder and Island.

"Dr. Nock and other psychologists do not dispute that teenage suicides can occur in clusters — on average in at least five communities a year in this country, studies suggest. Researchers estimate that up to 5 percent of teenage suicides occur close to other ones, a higher rate than found in adults.

Some clusters appear to involve a deadly, incomprehensible fad. In the last year, 17 young people are thought to have killed themselves in Bridgend, a city of 130,000 in Wales. Others may just be coincidence, and in places with sequential teenage suicides, investigators have looked in vain for similarities or common reasons."

After reading this news, I continued to read about the 'honesty block' that is now a part of the world-wide web. According the the New York Times article: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Post ...

"Some critics also believe it has become another weapon in the cyberbully’s arsenal. There have been reports at a high school in Palo Alto, Calif., of Honesty Box’s being used to slur male students because of their sexuality or to spread rumors about a female student.

Even more devastating, according to Michael Bloch, a junior at Palo Alto High School and the editor of the school Web site, was this message from one student to a classmate: “You should kill yourself. No one likes you.”"

Wow....as much as the internet makes information accessible, I realized how careful I need to be on what I take seriously and what I don't. Sure, it is an incredible tool to use...but with it comes a need for caution and warning. Especially with the new 'honesty block.' At first I thought....oh these people are just bringing it on themselves, but during these fragile moments of life (remember the high school drama?), it is a tender time. Regardless of upbringing, self esteem is critical during these defining moments of life. Teenagers are constantly seeking for the answers to questions of who they are, what their role is in life and their acceptance (not just in others, but of themselves). It can be a very fun or a very harsh time, because it is so defining of character and individuality. Reading stories like these troubles me.

I feel like creating the possibility of making sure that kids know how much they are loved...ALWAYS! I was one of those teenagers that found an incredible group of friends that understood that I was going to make mistakes...and loved me anyway. Some teens do not have this same opportunity. I was a happy teenager, but I do remember what it was like to 'find' myself. It is hard, it is part of progression...it never really stops. BUT, what I can do, is make sure that every teen I talk to knows of their worth! And what an incredible time they are living in.

Does it boil down to that? Do I blame their problems on the media or the internet? No! There is so much more to this than meets the eye. It has to start young....

I am just on a soap box now, but after reading this...what are your thoughts? What can we, those of us who have young children, single people, new couples, old couples with teenagers....what can we do to make sure that our children know who they are, their own significance to prevent the 'honesty block' from taking a toll on our wonderful kids?

1 comment:

The Dustin' Man-goose Family! said...

Big surprise! I have a comment! To be honest... I was one of those teenagers who didn't actually have anyone I truly felt understood me, and I had a lot of crappy people say/do crappy things to me. What got me through? My testimony. I knew that I had a heavenly father that loved me and knew who I really was. My teenage years are not ones I would readily go back to, but being a parent - I know that my children will be fine as long as they knew where the true source of happiness is - the gospel of Jesus Christ!