The Internet: Who Are You and What Are You Talking About?

Una webcam
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“Hi, wanna cyber? Asl? Pix send2recieve.” In the digital age of the 21st century, this dialogue is no longer uncommon. People are connecting to millions of others within milliseconds to share pictures, videos, songs, and ideas. The average Internet user has no face, no skin color, and no gender. In fact, the root of most discrimination depends on the amount of cyber experience one has—the newbies and the pros. Unfortunately, not everybody is able to hide under their protective cloak of anonymity—this was the case of Tyler Clementi, a young college student from New Jersey who committed suicide after his sexual exploits were recorded by his roommate’s webcam and then blasted on the web.

MTV recently released a new campaign called “Draw Your Line,” which is implemented to help people learn their cyber boundaries. When I first began my rehabilitation, I had the startling realization that I had barely any real life boundaries. I wasn’t sure what was socially okay to talk about and with which people, I wasn’t sure which girls to hit on, and I especially didn’t understand how to handle my own reactions. This website will help users—anonymously or otherwise—troubleshoot these problems on a situational basis. Members can post an action that they find troubling and others can comment and suggest the best course of reaction they can take. For example, in California, Anonymous just reported almost a dozen Craigslist predators.

I’m a big fan of this model of teaching. Much like the Socratic method it is very interactive, which means that the truth will always be changing depending on who is involved. It is up to the individual to figure out what is correct, but they have a whole database of solutions to choose from and an online community to ask for advice. The DARE program didn’t work very well—police officers came into elementary schools and told kids not to do drugs. In this case, instead of lecturing kids about what to do and what not to do, they are able to figure it out for themselves. The Internet is quite the anomaly. There is so much information that can be accessed at any time, but once one delves a little deeper it can be a cruel, dark place. In 2003 a man named Brandon Vedas (under the pseudonym ripper) overdosed on a webcam while communicating over Internet Relay Chat to a group of people all around the world. Maybe if some of the people in the chat room watching his webcam had access to Draw Your Line, he would still be alive right now.

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