Friday, April 14, 2006
MySpace and the mall: dangers and deception
Marketing bloggers are telling us to "study" this "phenomenon" to understand why it's so popular and successful. Some say that businesses should pay attention to what's going on in MySpace. Maybe business can milk MySpace bloggers and networks for cash. I'm not interested.
I put MySpace in the category of crystal meth, Harry Potter, gangsta (criminal/misogynist) rap, game shows, and similar "popular" substances and events.
What's garbage to me may be treasure to you. But having had a blog on MySpace for a while (it's still there, but dormant), I know what I saw. Perversion. Depravity. Promiscuity. No thanks. Look at the ads. Look at the profile photos. Losers.
MySpace is not a blog platform. It's a dating service, organized by users, for users. It's heralded by the teens themselves as a "hook-up" site, a new, fast, and easy way to meet people. But are the people you "meet" really who and what they say they are?
I'm very opinionated about predators and parents who are negligent.
Let me end this rant with an anecdote from my own life.
Yesterday my wife went with her daughter, Kathy, and little boy, Andrew, to the mall. Andrew suddenly vanished. He had wandered off as Andrea and Kathy were shopping and talking, assuming that Andrew was tagging along nearby. He wasn't.
That's the first mistake, not being mindful.
So my wife goes looking for him, and spies him all the way outside the store, by the entrance, talking to a guy about 36 years old. Andrew is 6 years old. Andrew was wearing a Cardinals baseball team tee shirt. The old geezer was saying to Andrew, as my wife approached, "I really like that tee shirt you're wearing."
My wife yanked Andrew away and scolded him for wandering off and talking to a stranger. When she asked him what he would have done if that man had grabbed him, and rushed him off to his car, Andrew said, "I don't know."
Second mistake: not fully instructing the child, with "what if...?" scenarios, and practice sessions on how to shout for help, and inflict pain on the abductor, for a brief chance to escape.
Andrew didn't even know that he should scream "I'm being kidnapped! Help me! I don't know this person! I'm being kidnapped! My mom's in Famous Barr women's apparel, petite", kick, bite, and get away from the kidnapper!
If you're not alarmed at that, it proves you either don't care about child safety, or you pay no attention to Amber Alerts, Oprah, or Dateline.
Not in a million years does a man compliment another person on their clothing, unless he has an ulterior reason. And even more rarely does a man compliment another man on his clothing. Still more unusual is a grown man complimenting a little child on the child's attire.
"Nice sweater" a guy says to a pretty lady, generally accompanied by a wish to see what's under the sweater. "Nice tie" she says, referring to what the tie is pointing to. Not in every case, mind you, but in a large percentage of cases, this is true. Ask any guy, any straight guy, I mean.
You may get angry with me now, and claim the 36 year old guy was merely a Cardinals fan, and meant no harm. Why was he talking to a little boy, who had clearly wandered away from his guardians? Not cool. Not smart. Not typical.
Stick your head in the sand, if you wish.
But all the mothers whose children are kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered, they all say, "I just could not believe this would ever happen to MY child. Things like that happen, it's true, but I could never expect it might happen to me or my family."
If you seriously think you're somehow immune, you're nuts.
MySpace is a dating service site that's crawling with deception and danger. Whatever "good" aspects it may have, it is like the local shopping mall, library, or public park. Good people go to these places for innocent purposes. But also: predators hang out there, looking for vulnerable victims.
Telling children and teens the facts is not enough. Watching news reports together is not enough. Dr. Phil and Oprah and Montel are not enough. Even Andy Rooney can't save us.
Parents need to look at what their children and teens are doing. Not to be domineering, tyrannical, or nosey. But to protect and to know exactly what's going on. It's not about "trust". It's about stupidity, negligence, and cluelessness. Ask any parent whose child was stolen and brutalized.
The MySpace frenzy reminds me of the China frenzy. I'm not buying it. They both suck.
Posted by steven edward streight at 4/14/2006 10:33:00 AM