14 May 2010

To Friend, or Not To Friend...

The joys of this modern day and age! We don't have to walk anywhere anymore because of cars, buses, and trains. What's the use of public phones when we can call our friends anytime, anywhere with cell phones? iPods play whatever music we want without the rest of the world ever caring for our tastes. Many people have TVs in order to keep tabs on what's going on in the world. The latest Apple gadget, Jesus Tablet (aka the iPad), is yet another reason for some people to never pick up a heavy book that smells of ink and paper ever again. And how can life go on without computers?

I'm not trying to complain or sound ungrateful of mankind's advancement; my iPod is one of the things I must have in life. I'm dependent on technology and I will not deny that. There are times, however, when I draw a line, and then again, who doesn't?

Technology isn't a bad thing, but the users are the ones who control - and sometimes manipulate - it for their own use. Science fiction books and movies point it out time and time again at how humanity can bring deadly consequences on itself when using something for the wrong reasons. This sounds too dramatic for what I want to talk about, but hey, it's not too irrelevant.

The reason this post is up is because of my recent computer activity. I admit to having my butt glued to a chair and my eyes and hands locked onto the monitor and keyboard for hours and hours a week. (Again, it's not abnormal. Like many teens, I'm incredibly lazy.) I'm fairly new to the social networking site stuff because I tended to avoid that stuff until now. But as I'm on my fairly-new account, suddenly numerous people send me messages to be their friend, some I have never heard of or met in my life. Every other person is a classmate or another student in my school. That was fairly shocking, especially when my status in my school is "nonexistent," which I don't mind much. I have heard of some of these peers, some of them I am around every day, but what do they all have in common? They don't talk to me in real life.

So my dilemma is should I friend or ignore them? Normally I hate to be rude to people by rejecting them for no reason. If someone I have never met sent me a Valentine's Day card, would I throw it away or accept it? As a gift, it will be accepted with a smile. With that, I friended those peers and ignored those I know I have never heard of/seen before.

To tie everything together, I will state that I try to be cautious. I don't respond to people I have never known who ask for my personal information, or keep contacts (email, cell numbers, addresses) of that person. Not only because they might be a potential stalker, but I might not be the person they think I am.

My parents taught me to be careful with strangers, seen or unseen, and I fully understand and accept what I have learned. Sadly, such safety on the internet is VERY hard to practice. The last time I read a big article about internet stalkers was over a year ago in Newsweek. Months ago, I might have seen one ad on TV about a girl who was abducted, but that's it otherwise. The media tells of the horrors of STDs, war, terrorism, and pedophiliac priests, so why haven't they emphasized what's directly relevant in our lives? Which is closer to a child or teenager in Ohio: Iraq or the internet? the Vatican or porn websites? Africa or social networking sites? Maybe instead of speaking of humanity's impending doom via 2012, why don't you teach kids how to safely use the internet before they end up on the "Have you seen me?" section of your newspaper?

That's why at the end of the day, I spend more time watching videos on Youtube than finding people to talk to on a social networking site. I might be anti-social at times, but it's sometimes better to say too little than too much. That's why I meditate on deciding to click "yes" or "no" every time I see a friend request on my account. Perhaps your doomed fate might not be war or illness, but a machine sitting on your desk. So, are you sure you want to be popular on the internet?

1 comment:

Rod said...

Okay, okay, I know I'm a little biased, being your dad and all, but I thought this post was engaging and thought provoking. I especially liked your question as to why kids are on their own to learn about how dangerous their worlds can be, while the media keeps its focus on the things that keep adults scared...and buying newspapers, of course!

Keep it coming, Melanie. I like having my brain squeezed! RH

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